TRAVERSE CITY — The heat is on.
Boilers are humming in all Traverse City Area Public Schools buildings after low temperatures in a few schools this week raised questions about possible violations of Michigan’s childcare licensing requirements.
Paul Soma, TCAPS associate superintendent of operations & finance, said a state childcare licensing official told district officials they do not need to file a report about the incident with the state, but they do need to be prepared if the problem occurs again.
“And if we find the temperature is below 65 degrees we should send the kids home,” Soma said.
Michigan’s Department of Human Services requires childcare facilities, including prekindergarten programs operated by local school districts, to maintain temperatures of at least “65 degrees Fahrenheit in child use areas at a point 2 feet above the floor,” according to licensing regulations.
TCAPS officials said temperatures in two preschool classrooms at Central Grade School measured between 65 and 66 degrees when staff members checked digital readouts Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
Sarah Johnson, head of the charter Greenspire School that currently rents TCAPS’ old Long Lake Elementary School, said thermometers in that building dropped to 53 degrees Wednesday. She threatened to cancel school the next day if temperatures didn’t climb inside the building.
The building was 68 degrees by Thursday morning and classes were held as scheduled, she said.
Officials started turning on boiler systems in the district’s 27 facilities on Oct. 14. That process takes at least 10 days to complete across the district, and Soma said a sudden drop in temperatures this week caught TCAPS staffers by surprise.
Soma said he’ll look for ways to avoid the same problem in the future. But he said maintaining comfortable temperatures throughout TCAPS’ 2 million-square feet of building space is an “imperfect process at best,” as evidenced by new complaints radiating from some TCAPS facilities.
“Some people say it’s too warm,” Soma said.