Covering Chicago's Back-to-School Season

Parents Fuming About CPS School Without Power

Parents point to recent public school closures as the reason behind the fire

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago Public Schools children had to be evacuated on the second day of school after a transformer exploded outside Mollison Elementary School, knocking out power to the building on a near-record hot day. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    Chicago Public Schools children had to be evacuated on the second day of school after a transformer exploded outside Mollison Elementary School, knocking out power to the building on a near-record hot day.

    The transformer caught fire outside the school around 11 a.m. in the 4400 block of South King Drive, fire officials said. Mollison's 450 students evacuated the building for a short time before they returned to classrooms.

    Parents Fuming About CPS School Without Power

    [CHI] Parents Fuming About CPS School Without Power
    A transformer explosion knocked out power to a Chicago public school and parents blame the incident on the school board's decision to close 50 schools. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    CPS determined the school was too hot for the children to stay, and robo-calls were made to parents. Temperatures were expected to reach the mid-90s in the Chicago area with a heat index reaching 100 degrees.

    Children who weren't picked up were bused to King High School, where CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said they will "receive lunch and be placed into a safe and comfortable environment with their teachers."

    Heat Prompts Shortened Schedules For Some Schools

    [CHI] Heat Prompts Shortened Schedules For Some Schools
    With temperatures in the 90s on Tuesday, students at Josephinum Academy in Chicago were let out at noon. Other schools also had shortened schedules. Nesita Kwan reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013)

    No injuries were reported, but some parents were furious, pointing to recent public school closures as the reason behind the fire.

    "It's because they're still doing construction in the building," said Jeanette Taylor, president of the Local School Council at Mollison. "They closed Overton back in June. This building should have been ready. That's the problem."

    State: CPS Has Never Filed Emergency Plan Report

    [CHI] State: CPS Has Never Filed Emergency Plan Report
    NBC Chicago has filed repeated requests through the Freedom of Information Act to see those reports for CPS' so-called "welcoming schools." Phil Rogers reports. (Published Monday, Aug 26, 2013)

    Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) said CPS was supposed to tell ComEd it added air conditioners so the utility could install a higher-performing transformer to handle the increased load of needed power.

    "This did not happen," Dowell said.

    CPS Faces First Test of Safe Passage Routes

    [CHI] CPS Faces First Test of Safe Passage Routes
    Thousands of students in Chicago returned to school Monday in an overhauled district that saw 50 schools close, some teachers fired and "Safe Passage" routes created. Michelle Relerford reports. (Published Monday, Aug 26, 2013)

    But a spokeswoman for Exelon, ComEd's parent company, said an exact cause for the outage was still under investigation as of 2 p.m.

    "It is premature to report a cause for the outage," Judith Rader said in an email.

    Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the power company determined the transformer won't be a quick fix and the school will be without power all night.

    Carroll said ComEd is working to determine the cause of the fire and fix the transformer. A generator was brought to the school to ensure power for class on Wednesday.

    "When temperatures rise, it is not uncommon for transformers to malfunction," she said.

    Taylor said the incident confirms parents' concerns about the Chicago school board deciding to close 50 schools in the spring. Some schools weren't ready for the influx of new students.

    "We're still trying to finish this building to put the other kids from the closed schools in," Taylor said, "so it's on CPS. This is exactly what parents were upset about. You're closing 50 schools, and they have not figured this out."

    Another mother who picked up her son said she appreciated the call and confirmed the school without power was no place for kids.

    "It's very hot in there," Brandy Stricklin said. "It's very, very hot in there."

    Students were to be returned to Mollison in time for the school's 3:45 p.m. dismissal time.