EAST PROVIDENCE — For the second time this winter, students and teachers at East Providence High School suffered through quite chilly conditions in certain portions of the six-decade-old structure Tuesday, Jan. 7.
As temperatures tumbled throughout the day, those inside some classrooms hovered in the high 40s and low 50s. According to students and teachers who contacted The Post, many were forced to wear heavy winter jackets, hats and gloves during school hours in an attempt to keep warm.
Later Tuesday evening at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting in City Hall, School Committee member Tony Ferreira, who serves as his body’s liaison to the Council, told his political peers about the situation.
He said City Facilities Director Ed Catelli had informed Mr. Ferreira the problems arose because “five or six” heating system blower motors were not working at the high school.
The overall heating system, including three boilers, was working at full capacity, Mr. Ferreira added. He noted Mr. Catelli was back at the high school Tuesday evening, working with heating specialists to remedy the situation.
Mr. Ferreira said Mr. Catelli had told him replacement motors were on order and could arrive as soon as Wednesday.
If, while exterior temps are forecast to strain to reach the low 20s, temperatures inside EPHS could not be raised in the range of 67 or 68 degrees by Wednesday morning, Mr. Ferreira said he would urge Superintendent of Schools Kim Mercer to cancel classes for the day.
The news seemed to come as a surprise to most of the Councilors and Acting City Manager Paul Lemont. Only Ward 4 Councilor Chrissy Rossi, who claimed to have received several calls, emails and social media posts, said she knew of the situation.
This was, though, not the first case of the heating system failing at EPHS this term. During a previous cold spell in December, similar reports emanated from the facility.
The information provided to the Council Tuesday by Mr. Ferreira evolved into a larger discussion about the state of the high school, which is in danger of losing its accreditation due to problems with its infrastructure. Ward 2 Councilor Helder Cunha recommended the subject be placed on the Council’s agenda for its January 21 meeting, a suggestion agreed upon by his cohorts.