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After complaint of cold, Laurel school administrators say boiler under repair

One of two boilers in school leaks; heat still circulating
Laurel High School boiler room
Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 09, 2022

LAUREL — Students took to social media Tuesday following major snowfall in Montana stating Laurel High School was without heat.

It turns out that's not exactly true, according to the district.

Matt Torix, the superintendent for Laurel Public Schools, told MTN News Wednesday that while the school is experiencing problems with a boiler, the building is still being heated.

“If we’re not able to have heat in the school, then we would not have school. That would be my philosophy,” Torix explains. "We sprung a leak in one of our boilers when we turned them on to test them a week ago, and we had to turn off one of our boilers. We’re getting that leak fixed. The other boiler is functional, though. In temperatures like this, one boiler is all we need."

Torix states the machinery and equipment are more than 50 years old, and it might be time to replace a few things.

But first, the school district is hoping the community votes to approve a bond next year to receive the money for these upgrades.

“We do have to look at replacing an air handler or two. They’re right around $200,000 a piece. If we ordered one today, we’re probably looking around 26, 27 weeks before we can get it on the property,” Torix explains.

While the district waits for more funding, Torix says the boilers they have now are adequate.

There may be some cool spots in the building, but nothing too extreme.

“Throughout the building, you have temperatures that are closer to the 70-degree range, there are some rooms that are probably 64/65 degrees, but there’s nothing that is down in the 40-degree range,” Facilities Director Wayne Fjare says.

Until the second boiler's leak is fixed, Torix recommends students layer their clothing.

"Honestly, it’s probably some sweatshirt weather in some of those rooms, because an individual room might be having a problem, but that’s what we’re addressing as we turn it on. But there are other parts of the school that are just fine,” Torix says.

When MTN News visited the school on Wednesday, multiple students were seen in t-shirts and shorts.

Laurel High School student
Laurel High School student

“There are a few places, but nothing’s that cold, nothing’s freezing,” Torix explains.