P.K. Yonge has had to make do with chilly classrooms

Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 7:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 7:20 p.m.

Chilly classrooms might be an unusual occurrence at some schools, but it's nothing new at P.K. Yonge School.

About 16 of the 60 classrooms at the University of Florida laboratory school lack heating and must be warmed by space heaters, said Fran Vandiver, the school's director.

"What we've done with the space heaters has worked until this extended period of cold," she said.

The record cold has Vandiver considering buying better heaters. She wants to avoid spending more money on a permanent solution, she said, because she's seeking money to build new facilities to replace much of the K-12 school.

The school is seeking about $50 million for the project. Vandiver said about $5 million has been collected for the $9 million first phase to rebuild the elementary school. The unheated classrooms are located in the middle and high school portions, and it could take years to get the funding to replace them.

Built in 1957, the school originally was heated by a system in which heating came from under the floors. Vandiver said that system was less than ideal, because of a lack of control over the heat, and has not functioned for several years.

Most classrooms now are heated by wall units, but they are aging, and some suffered breakdowns in the past week. She said teachers in unheated classrooms were allowed to move to heated areas during the recent cold weather, an offer that a handful took.

The school has relaxed its no-hat policy for students, she said, but some have been unprepared for the cold.

"I still have kids that come in every day in shorts and a T-shirt," Vandiver said.

The lack of heat is not all bad news. The school's gym lacks both heating and air conditioning, which Van Diver said creates an advantage over visiting teams.

"This is our homefield advantage," she said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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