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City of Poughkeepsie elementary school closes due to cold

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Albany/HV: City of Poughkeepsie elementary school closes due to cold
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With temperatures below freezing, boilers at Warring Elementary in the City of Poughkeepsie are giving up. With little to no heat on Monday, classes were canceled for the day and again Wednesday for repairs. YNN's John Wagner reports.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Riley Cesark and older brother Jeremy are enjoying a mini-vacation in the warmth of their home. It's cold outside and inside of Warring Elementary after one boiler shut down and the other is only producing a quarter of its normal heat output.

"I had this long sleeve shirt on, I had my coat on and I was still freezing," said Riley Cesark.

"I was glad that there was no school today or tomorrow, because I didn't want to be in school freezing my butt off," said Jeremy.

The district believes the heating issue began on Saturday and was not able to be fixed on Monday morning with kids already in classes. Poughkeepsie schools have a no early dismissal policy, leaving everyone, even teachers bundled up.

"She was wearing a jacket, she was wearing her gloves, a hoodie," said Riley.

"It was so cold in my room that the heater was actually blowing out cold air," said Jeremy.

Replacement parts are on their way from Massachusetts, with a price tag close to $10,000 to fix one of the two boilers, enough to heat the school, while figuring out how to repair the other.

"We want to make sure everyone's safe. We don't want to disturb any asbestos fibers," said Dr. Laval Wilson, Superintendent for the Poughkeepsie City School District.

Thirty-three-year-old boilers are just the tip of the infrastructure iceberg. All six of the district’s elementary school buildings range from 84 to 101 years old. The youngest in the district is the middle school at 45.

"It's a big issue and we've been trying to patch and put band-aids on our problems: Leaking roofs, boiler issues," said Ralph Coates, the Poughkeepsie city school board president.

"Clearly Poughkeepsie is in need of new schools," said Dr. Wilson.

The superintendent estimates a new elementary school would run $25 to $30 million. There's no money for it now, but if federal and state money comes available, the district has construction plans ready.

"When you have schools that are 84 years old and older, it's time to replace those buildings," said Dr. Wilson.

If the heat turns on and no asbestos readings arise, class will resume Thursday, which for some kids, is fine.

"I like to learn," said Riley.

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