North Star Elementary School experiences heating problems

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s a checklist in sending off your children to school: backpack, jacket, maybe a lunch box, but who has sent their children to school with a space heater?

Apparently, that has been the reality for at least one student at an Albuquerque elementary school in the Northeast Heights. We spoke to some very concerned parents and an Albuquerque Public School representative.

Parents say the heat has been out in the fifth grade wing of North Star Elementary School for nearly a month now.  They first learned about the frigid classrooms when a teacher notified families earlier this month.

An APS spokesperson says the heat system was repaired Wednesday, but it’s been a long and cold three weeks for children in the meantime.

“It was very cold, and I brought an extra heater,” one fifth grader explained over the phone as her dad drove her home from school Wednesday.  

“You brought an extra heater?” her father asked.

“Yeah, mom had me bring a little plug-in heater that we have,” she said.

Some families with fifth graders at North Star elementary have had to get creative when getting dressed for school. Ever since they got a text from their children’ teacher on Jan. 5 saying the heat is out and the children should dress warmly–and in layers.

“I don’t blame the teacher at all that they were working on it. But they were not having any luck, every time the maintenance guy comes out says he got it fixed, but it wasn’t fixed and that started at the beginning of the year,” the father added on their drive home.

But the problems didn’t end there. This past Tuesday, parents got another text from the teacher suggesting they let children bring blankets to class because the heater still wasn’t fixed.

“I’m sure they are not learning much because they are more concerned with how to stay warm,” the father said.

APS Spokesperson, Monica Armenta, confirms the heat system broke earlier this month in the building’s fifth grade wing – but it was repaired Wednesday.

Still, average temperatures in Albuquerque — since it broke — ranged from 21 to 27 degrees while children were in class. In fact the only time the temperature broke 40 degrees in the last three weeks was on the Jan. 15, a Sunday when no students in school.

“I was deeply concerned and disappointed in APS, how can you have kids go to school when we have had low 20 degree temperatures, and highs of 30, and high winds? It’s unacceptable, it’s super unacceptable,” the

Armenta says this is actually a common problem in the district, and they have many heaters break every year. She claims staff is doing the best they can to get those repairs made as soon as possible. Adding their technicians will check on the North Star elementary heater Thursday to make sure those repairs are sticking.