Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 24, 2013

Second cold day for some TCAPS staff and students

TRAVERSE CITY — Chilly temperatures inside some Traverse City classrooms may have violated state licensing requirements for childcare facilities.

Four Traverse City Area Public schools — including some with pre-kindergarten programs — remained far below normal temperatures for at least part of the day Wednesday. The mercury outside fell below 40 degrees and snow flurries filled the sky.

Some reports indicated indoor thermometers at those TCAPS facilities dropped to near or below the 65-degree mark required by state childcare licensing rules.

TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins said district officials will investigate and may need to file a report with the state.

“That’s something I’ll have to go back and look at,” Cousins said.

Michigan’s Department of Human Services requires childcare facilities, including prekindergarten programs operated by local school districts, to maintain temperatures at “a safe and comfortable level,” according to DHS licensing rules.

That means “indoor temperatures shall be at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit in child use areas at a point 2 feet above the oor,” the licensing rules state.

DHS officials could not be reached for comment.

Two of the colder TCAPS schools run preschool programs.

Children as young as 3 attend Central Grade School, Principal Robert Peters said.

Peters said he didn’t know how cold classrooms the were Wednesday morning. But Kelly Rye, the mother of a kindergarten student, guessed the temperature inside the school was between 50 and 55 degrees when she dropped her daughter off .

Cousins said Paul Mahon, the district’s director of capital projects and maintenance, checked digital temperature displays in the preschool classrooms at Central Grade School on Tuesday and Wednesday at about 8:30 a.m. The readouts showed temperatures between 65 and 66 degrees both days, Cousins said.

“Whether they dipped below that at other times, I don’t know,” he said.

Peters said teachers allowed students to wear “whatever clothing they needed” to stay warm as the boiler system heated up, and by Wednesday afternoon the temperature inside the school was comfortable.

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