Gary Roosevelt expected to open on Tuesday

2013-01-28T11:55:00Z 2013-01-28T23:59:15Z Gary Roosevelt expected to open on TuesdayBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | School leaders plan to reopen Roosevelt College and Career Academy on Tuesday after the school has been closed four consecutive days due to heating problems, burst pipes and flooding.

Roosevelt Principal Terrance Little, Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and Gary Community School Corp. board member Marion Williams toured the building room by room Monday.

On Friday, a Marion County Superior Court ruled the Gary district, which still owns the building and is required to maintain it, to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees and remove standing water from the burst pipes.

Roosevelt is one of five academically troubled Indiana schools taken over by the state last year and turned over to private groups. It is operated by Tennessee-based EdisonLearning Inc., a for-profit education management company, under a four-year contract with the state Department of Education.

Friday's ruling also specifically states that all repairs are to be made by the Gary Community School Corp., and that EdisonLearning is not to employ anyone to repair the heating system.

Pruitt said the Gary district is addressing repairs and will leave an operator at the school to monitor whether the rooms are heated and the system is operating.

Williams, who was Roosevelt principal from 1999 to 2005, said a new mechanical system with new boilers was installed during his tenure but he said the system requires an operator to "safeguard the system and ensure it is operating adequately." The building opened in 1929.

Classes were last held Jan. 15 when temperatures inside the school were in the 40s. Water from other burst pipes damaged third-floor ceiling tiles and leaked into classrooms and the main office, which has been moved across the hallway, school leaders said. Pipes also burst in the school's football and track stadium earlier in the week, but those leaks weren't discovered until Thursday.

Pruitt said all the Gary school buildings have maintenance problems, and the district secured a $20 million bond to begin repairs. She said the district is looking for a new director of building maintenance and grounds to help develop a sound plan to address the issues.

Vanessa Ronketto, with EdisonLearning, said school officials will take temperature readings Monday night and Tuesday morning. "We will notify families via the media and the telephone robo message by 6 a.m. Tuesday if school remains closed," she said.

Getting students back to school is particularly important as educators across the state face the mandated ISTEP-Plus exams for students in grades three through eight and end-of-course assessments for high school students given each spring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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