This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
With temperatures plummeting, facilities workers in Philadelphia’s public schools have dealt with a steady stream of weather-related maintenance issues.
“Our building engineers are working double-time on this,” said School District spokesperson Lee Whack. “It gets cold every winter, but obviously not this cold.”
The District’s facilities team oversees an aging building stock on a limited budget. To replace all the heating systems that the District says are on borrowed time would cost more than $70 million, according to a WHYY analysis.
Building engineers have worked every day since Dec. 26, including weekends, said Whack, to battle the creeping cold. Maintenance workers will be on the job through this weekend and are expected to arrive early Monday morning to detect any new problems.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort,” said Whack.
At Solis-Cohen Elementary School in Northeast Philadelphia, heating issues prompted some students to move classrooms, as reported first by CBS3.