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Computer glitch knocks out heat at Belgrade elementary school

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Oct 09 2013 06:10:13 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2013 06:25:15 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Saddle Peak Elementary students arrived to a chilly school Wednesday morning after a problem with the heating system. It's Belgrade School District's newest addition, having just opened up this fall.

When administrators arrived at Saddle Peak Elementary on Wednesday, they discovered the school was a chilly 61 degrees.

"Our intention is that they're at 71 degrees," says Belgrade School Superintendent Candy Lubansky.

Lubansky tells us a glitch in the computer system was to blame and explains they bypassed the school's computer center to get the heat up and running.

"With a brand new building, our contractors have told us very clearly that as systems are brand new and you start them and you get that going that you might run into little glitches that you just have to problem solve," Lubansky replied.

We wanted to know more about the heating and cooling system at Saddle Peak Elementary, so we stopped by the school to speak with the head custodian.

Randy Walker took us to the school's boiler room. He tells us the system wasn't functioning as a heater Wednesday morning, bringing in frigid air from outside and recirculating it with the the school's indoor air -- cooling the school.

"Runs through the duct and comes out at a temperature, whatever the outside air is and this one will open and recirculate air from within the building and Wednesday morning, the way it's designed, it'll bring in a certain percent of outside air to mix with the inside air," Walker explains.

Walker showed us the computer he used to regain control over the system.

"We're having a communication problem with our network and the system in general. It's not communicating with each other," Walker says.

He tells us he used the computer to connect directly with the heating and cooling system. While he's now able to control the school's heat, a team of tech experts are still working to get communication between the two systems restored.

Heat was back up and running in about two hours.

When we were on campus at around 1:30 p.m., the average temperature was close to 68 degrees.

Lubansky tells us there is a point at which they would send kids home if this happened again, although she couldn't give us an exact temperature.