GARY | The Gary Community School Corp. has reached an agreement with EdisonLearning to resolve continuing heating and building problems at Gary Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
EdisonLearning, which was appointed by the Indiana Department of Education to operate the failing Gary high school three years ago, reported numerous maintenance issues to the Gary Community School Corp. The school corporation owns the building and serves as landlord.
Last year, a lawsuit was filed in Marion Superior Court and the judge ordered the school system to restore heat and complete repairs to the Roosevelt building at its expense, including the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The court said the immediate repairs must be such that the facility can be maintained at 68 degrees in all areas of the building.
The school corporation signed a “shared services agreement” with Tennessee-based EdisonLearning on Jan. 15. The 53-page agreement, released by EdisonLearning, requires the Gary school district to address heating issues and maintain a safe building for students and staff, just as it would for any other Gary school building.
Gary school spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt toured Roosevelt with Gary maintenance supervisor Charles Prewitt and Gary School Board President Rosie Washington on Saturday and Sunday.
"It's our building and it's important to us just like every other school building," Stevens said. "The school is being operated by a management company. It's going to come back to us, and we want to make sure it's safe and secure. The superintendent and Mr. Prewitt did an assessment of the building, and the repairmen have been over there working."
However, Stevens also said the district has budget constraints and still must take care of all its other buildings.
EdisonLearning spokesman Michael Serpe said the school corporation has the responsibility for major repairs, boiler repairs and preventive maintenance. Gary Community School Corp. has the responsibility to respond to emergencies and investigate indoor air quality issues. The school district is obligated to respond to work orders by identifying response and turnaround time within 24 hours. The district also is obligated to maintain sump pumps in the building and repair leaks, Serpe said.
A number of pipes burst over the weekend due to heating failures, causing the hallways near the gym to flood with up to 2 inches of water, Serpe said.
"Our school facilities staff had the water pumped out, and worked all day Monday mopping flood water and emptying pails of water from the water leaking in various rooms," he said.
Temperatures in many of the classrooms have registered between 47 and 58 degrees, and temperatures in the hallways range from 51 to 61 degrees, Serpe said. The temperature must be at least 68 degrees, he said.