Milford Middle School shut as secondary heater, needed in this cold, fails

MILFORD – There were a few things missing at Milford Middle School on Thursday, Jan. 23. Students, mainly, and heat as well.

There were no classes for the 700 students, and a few of the 110 staff members were in the building, as workers waited for a replacement part for the second of two boilers used to heat the 104,000-square-foot building.

Tony DeMarco, the school’s principal, said he met with the superintendent and then decided to close school for the day.

“Building maintenance and the contractor worked all day Thursday and were back on Friday making sure things were OK,” he said Monday, Jan. 27.

On Friday, Jan. 24, students and staff were back in school and the building was toasty warm, he said.

“If kids came in and the building was too cold, we’d have to send kids home and you don’t want to take the chance of kids going home and no one being there. It would be a logistical nightmare,” the principal said.

Temperatures in the building varied from the mid-50s in the library to the low 60s.

“It’s not that we have no heat, we’re well above freezing. Nothing’s burst, it’s just that we can’t keep up with demand,” said Bill Cooper, director of buildings and grounds for the Milford School District on Jan. 23. He described the situation as an “emergency, not a crisis.”

“People think we don’t have breakdowns, but we do,” Cooper said. “There are two boilers. It’s considered a lead lag situation. When the lead boiler turns on and comes up to temperature, if it can’t keep up because it’s too cold out, the second one will kick in. We had a solenoid valve on the oil pump that failed, so boiler No. 2 went down. With the temperatures being where they are, we just couldn’t keep up with the demand.”

Inside the building, the staff that was on-hand bundled up. Chairs were stacked on tables in classrooms.

The boilers are 20 years old and parts aren’t readily available, Cooper said. They looked at several area supply houses with no luck, so the part had to be shipped from New York.

Staff writer Kathy Cleveland contributed to this report. Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or