At Ben Franklin High, students and teachers in the cold

Ben Franklin High School on Broad Street has been experiencing heating issues, teachers say.

Students and teachers at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High School have been in the cold for days, they say.

The large school on North Broad Street has been experiencing problems with its heating system since last week, one teacher said. 

On Tuesday, with temperatures in the low 30s, the heating problems were particularly difficult, said the teacher, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. When the heat is turned on, the sewer backs up in the school's basement.

"Some of the rooms are in the 50s," the teacher said Tuesday morning. "My feet are icicles."

Staff and students are bundled up in coats, and some staff are trying to use space heaters to warm their rooms. 

The heating problems are affecting learning, the teacher said.

"The kids are trying their best, but they're freezing. We're all freezing. This is just unacceptable," the teacher said.

H. Lee Whack Jr., a district spokesman, said that the school's boiler malfunctioned Monday night, but that it had been turned back on and classrooms would be warmed soon. Plumbers were also on site at Franklin to address the sewage problems.

"The School District is aware of the facilities issues at Ben Franklin, and is working diligently to correct them," Whack said.

By lunchtime, the heat had been restored to some rooms, teachers said. In mid-afternoon, teachers said it was off again.


Whack said he had no further information about conditions at the school.

Ben Franklin's hearing system needs major repairs or replacing, district records show. Its HVAC system and heating and cooling controls are in poor shape and need investments that would cost millions. The school was built in the late 1970s and now educates about 550 students.

The school system recently announced it had 12,000 outstanding repairs districtwide, accounting for $4.5 billion in deferred maintenance costs.