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Roosevelt High School

GARY — Roosevelt College and Career Academy students will be reporting for class in the Gary Area Career Center beginning Feb. 14.

A week after record-breaking cold brought schools and city governments to a halt, Roosevelt students have yet to resume classes due to issues with the school's aging boiler system.

The school posted to its Facebook page Monday that in extreme cold temperatures last week, water pipes connected to the boiler system had burst causing the system to shut down. Maintenance personnel have assessed plumbing and HVAC systems throughout the week, according to a news release from the school. But complete repairs in the unheated school building are expected to take two to three weeks.

"Temperatures over the next three weeks are expected to reach a low of 15 degrees and a high of 36 degrees," read a school statement explaining the situation. "Building temperatures need to be a minimum of 64 degrees to comfortably and safely accommodate the students."

While most students in the Region returned to school this week, Roosevelt students are not expected to report to class at the Gary Area Career Center until Feb. 14.

"Since this has happened in the past, there are protocols in place to keep the kids on track," said Michael Serpe, a spokesman for Roosevelt's educational services provider EdisonLearning.

Serpe said heat loss in the nearly 90-year-old building is nothing new to the Roosevelt community. Heating issues have plagued the school since before EdisonLearning took over the school six years ago. Last year, Serpe said, students spent about a week out of school.

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"It's crazy," said LaTasha Mason, who sends her two sons to Roosevelt. "Last winter it was the same thing. The bus company just dropped kids back at home."

EdisonLearning is a tenant in the building still owned by the Gary Community School Corp. EdisonLearning claims high expenses needed to replace the boiler system have kept the Gary district, taken over by the state in 2017, from providing the necessary upgrades.

"It's an old building and the cost to make repairs is quite extensive," Serpe said. "Unfortunately, students, teachers, staff and parents have become all too accustomed to this situation."

In their week away from school, students have access to some assignments online, Serpe said, but makeup days will likely be added to the end of the year. Serpe said that it's always difficult for students to transition back to school after extended periods away, but he hopes students will be back up to speed before standardized testing begins this spring.

He pointed to the school's recent A grade received in Indiana's school accountability assessment as evidence of students' ability to rebound after weather-related school closures last year.

"You want to get them back re-engaged, back into the swing of things," Serpe said. "As strange as it seems, the school seems to persevere."

Roosevelt will have a parent meeting at 5 p.m. Monday in the Gary Area Career Center cafeteria to address concerns. Parents are encouraged to call Roosevelt Principal Ian Miller with questions at 219-881-1500, ext. 1011.

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.