Chilly mornings, space heaters at Concord High as school deals with no heat

  • Concord High School staff member Andrea Bacher runs a space heater behind her desk set at 71 degrees in the school’s office on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, as the school braved chilly temps amid a heating system conversion. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Construction proceeds where Concord High School will be producing its own heat and hot water before the next heating season. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • A worker removes the last pipe from the old system that brought in from Concord Steam to heat the Concord High School. Steam was cut off May 1 when the company stopped generating steam to the 539,000-square-foot building. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/11/2017 12:11:24 AM

Fifteen space heaters were distributed throughout Concord High School as classroom temperatures dipped into the low 50s this week due to the lack of heat.

It was an unavoidable side effect of the school district’s rushed conversion to natural gas heat ahead of the closure of Concord Steam, district facilities manager Matt Cashman said.

Demolition of old heating equipment began on schedule May 1 at the high school and will follow in three other steam-heated schools.

“In order to make the late September deadline to have all six natural gas boilers for the high school up and running, supplying heat to the building, we needed to conduct the demolition of the steam lines the first week of May,” Cashman said.

That meant there was no way to heat the 539,000-square-foot high school after the overnight low temperature reached 36 degrees Tuesday, which was 4 degrees below the historical average low in Concord for May 9, according to the National Weather Service.

Even as the day drew on, the high temperature reached only 51 degrees – 16 degrees below the historical average – and therefore temperatures remained far below what district officials predicted when they scheduled the demolition in November.

“We looked at average temperatures in May,” Cashman said. “This part of New Hampshire was predicted to be in the 60s and low 70s.”

Cashman noted that the school district typically shuts off heat to its buildings by the second week of May.

Principal Tom Sica warned staff and students to pay attention to weather forecasts and dress accordingly, Cashman said.

At the high school on Tuesday, Cashman said, “Some people are cold; some people have dressed appropriately.”

Aside from the unlucky weather, Cashman said the district’s massive $9 million conversion of four schools – about 800,000 square feet of space in all – to natural gas heating sources is proceeding according to plan.

Demolition at the high school will be complete this week, he said, and will take about two weeks each as it continues moving from school to school, beginning with Rundlett Middle School next week. Then it will proceed to Abbot-Downing School and Christa McAuliffe School.

In the meantime, each of the four schools was already producing hot water without steam before May 1, Cashman said.

“Over the April vacation, we put hot water boilers in each of the four schools,” he said. “That put us in a good spot. It put us ahead of schedule.”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, or on Twitter at

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