Cold lessons: Boiler fails, E. Oregon school open

HERMISTON, Ore. (AP) — The boiler that supplied heat for a wing of a Hermiston elementary school has bit the dust, so students are studying with a little more clothing in rooms warmed by electric space heaters.

"We keep our jackets and gloves on," Rocky Heights third-grader Peyton Herman, 8, told the East Oregonian.

Teacher Jessica Campbell said students at first wore extra layers of clothing as a precaution, but most haven't found it necessary. The rooms each have two heaters and are checked three times a day to make sure temperatures are comfortable, she said.

That doesn't mean students are necessarily happy.

"I'm not really close to the heater, so I don't like that," said fifth-grader Nicholas Keeney, 11.

A crack in the boiler began to spread as temperatures dipped into the teens.

"We started losing it around Jan. 1, and we limped it along for another week or so," said Mike Kay, Hermiston school district's director of support services.

The failure affected a wing holding 12 classrooms.

A $60,000 replacement to the nearly 50-year-old boiler will take another three to four weeks to arrive.

Even though the wait may be inconvenient, Kay said, the school district decided to spend time looking for the most efficient model and keep the classrooms open.

"It is better than the alternative, which would have been no school," Campbell said. "We really couldn't have afforded that."