Schools might be slow to crank up thermostat

Just because it's cold outside, don't assume the heat will be on inside some schools.

Richmond County parents should bundle up their children and make sure their clothing is layered, because older schools might not be quick to flip on the heat.

Schools with older heating systems might wait to turn them on despite overnight temperatures this week dipping to freezing. It takes three days to heat the thousands of gallons of water in single-loop systems and just as long to cool the water if the warm weather returns, said Benton Starks, the school system's senior director of facilities services.

"I can't change the laws of physics, no matter how much people jump up and scream," Mr. Starks said of the time involved. "I just don't have the power."

The official switch to heat isn't made until after Thanksgiving, but principals can choose to turn the heat on at their schools earlier, he said.

Each year, he sends a letter warning the schools, however, that it takes time to make the switch and that it will also take time to switch back to cooling the school.

Dan Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C., said it might be a bit early to pack away warm-weather clothing.

Although Augusta could have its first frost of the school year this morning, or more likely Thursday morning, it wouldn't be unusual for temperatures to warm up, he said.

The weather service's forecast calls for temperatures to reach about 72 degrees Saturday before turning cool again.

"There's at least the promise that temperatures could warm up to or above normal," Mr. Miller said.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.