No heat in Patterson High School

January 28, 2018

By Justyce Medley

Many classrooms at Patterson High School went without heat during the first week of January. Ever since students came back from winter break to freezing cold classrooms, they were upset.

“It was ridiculously cold. Being wrapped up in warm clothing didn’t help at all. I could hardly concentrate!”, proclaimed student Kendric Senior.

Some classrooms had temperatures below 40 degrees. Mr. Ritter’s classroom on the first floor was measured at 37 degrees on January 2. In Ms. Williams’ music classroom, a radiator started steaming and then burst open. Water gushed out of it for hours before the school district sent someone to shut it off. Ms. Williams and other teachers were worried that the water would leak down to the room below and ruin the band equipment and JROTC uniforms that were stored there.

“We have problems with cold room temperatures because the heating system at Patterson is old and deteriorating. The school system came and performed ‘preventative maintenance’ earlier in the year, but they obviously didn’t fix everything.”, explained Mr. Tola, an ESOL teacher. “Furthermore, we need a modern boiler/furnace that can pump heat throughout the building more efficiently. It seemed to take a full day for it to really get working.”, Mr. Tola added.

Teachers whose rooms were too cold tried to move their classes to warmer rooms. In many cases, two or three different classes crowded together in the same classroom. It was nearly impossible to teach or learn in those conditions. Since the students and parents was very irritated, they decided to call North Avenue.

Patterson was not the only school to suffer from heating problems. Over 60 schools throughout the city were in the same situation. All over Baltimore, boilers were breaking, pipes were freezing and leaking, and students from Pre-K to high school were huddled together in coats, hats, and gloves.

Soon, the media started picking up on what was happening and before long the heating crisis was all over the news, including CNN, NPR, the Huffington Post, and even Teen Vogue magazine. The Baltimore Sun reported on January 3rd that “The Baltimore Teachers Union is urging the city to shut down all schools until officials can get a handle on heating problems that already closed some buildings and left children shivering in others.” Many reports also highlighted the need for more state funding for Baltimore City Public Schools so we can repair, renovate or replace our schools. Eventually Governor Hogan did announce that he would give $2.5 million more to the district, but critics say that is not nearly enough to solve the district’s long-term problems.

“I believe that the school system has been underfunded by the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland for many years”, argued Mr. Tola. “Both the Baltimore City government and the Maryland government should have spent millions of dollars more each year on school facilities. Then, we would have more modern buildings in better conditions.”

Finally, after two days of severe heating problems, the Baltimore public school system decided to close down the school for two days so they can repair the technical difficulties.

Now that the heat is back on in most classrooms, a lot of kids are satisfied because they don’t have to deal with being in a cold room for a long period of time. Many parents and teachers were concerned about the kids’ health. It was so cold in there it felt like being outside. Even though the students were out for a couple of days, the job had to be done. North Avenue was getting a lot of phone calls from the parents and students about the situation and a lot of negative attention in the news, locally and nationally. So they finally made an attempt to fix everything and for the most part they did. So now students hope they will not have to worry about being in a cold classroom again. Many students, teachers, and parents are now satisfied with the outcome and are eager to learn in a warm classroom.

“When parents, students and teachers came together to demand better conditions, the school system was forced to act.”, said English teacher Ms. Kirsch. “The problem is far from solved, but it is better now than it has been in years.”