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NEWS: Snow Day: The Maintenance Issues of Jan. 17

By Bryant Grizzell

On Jan. 17, Batavia High School was shut down by a slew of maintenance issues following several days of inclement weather, resulting in several days of e-learning for students.

Problems that were reported to have occurred in the school included burst pipes, malfunctioning heating systems, and water leaks in certain classrooms. The maintenance workers of the school district quickly repaired each issue as it appeared and the school opened fully the following day on Jan. 18.

Dr. Smith explained the cause for the problem. 

“It was on the 16th that we started noticing we were having problems,” Smith said. “The boiler that heated some of the rooms wasn’t working properly, and on the 17th we had to shut down the school.”

The heating was interrupted by a coil of the boiler being broken, which inhibits the boiler’s ability to heat the water used to keep the air in classrooms warm. Furthermore, a lack of warm water can cause the individual heating units in rooms to malfunction, causing all manner of problems like water leaks and burst pipes. About 20 rooms were affected by heating issues and leaks, with the majority being located in the C-wing of the school. Major areas such as the lunchroom, main street atrium, and gym were unaffected.

“It’s a very difficult system to repair because of how large it is,” Dr. Smith explained. “We had building and district workers, as well as outside contractors from the heating company come in to repair it.”

It was expected that repairing the boiler would bring most of the classroom’s heat back online, but many of the individual units required further maintenance to return to normal functionality. As a result, temporary space heaters were distributed to classrooms without building heating. With a solution in place, students were welcomed back to the building on Thursday morning as maintenance work continued.

“I want to thank the maintenance team for working around the clock to get us back into the building,” said Dr. Smith, after being asked for any extra commentary. “It’s thanks to them we were able to get back to learning on the 18th.”

Each wing of the school has its own boiler system that heats the classrooms. The classrooms of the C-wing were constructed around 1995, and were outfitted with wall-mounted heating units; the D-wing classrooms, which were constructed around 2011 and were less affected, use overhead forced-air ventilation. The district has funds set aside to repair these systems as they fail, as well as a reserve called the Capital Projects Budget, which is used to replace aging systems every 10-20 years.

Thanks to the maintenance workers of the district, the school was brought back to working condition in just 24 hours. Other schools were not as lucky. Grayslake Middle School, located about 1 hour from Batavia, which will remain closed for several more weeks to make extensive repairs following the winter weather. Other schools in the Batavia 101 school district remained open after the winter storms and continue to operate as per usual.

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