Air conditioning woes continue in schools across Hillsborough County

Parents complain of hot classrooms
Posted at 11:01 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 17:59:49-04

More parents are coming forward with complaints about hot classrooms in Hillsborough County.

ABC Action News first reported on the issue last week before school started at Citrus Park Elementary.

This week, parents from Walker Middle, Martinez Middle and Davidsen Middle say faulty air conditioning is putting their student's health and learning at risk.

Staff led dozens of students from Walker Middle School to nearby Hammond Elementary for after-school activities Tuesday afternoon, taking students out of another hot building in the first week of school.

One parent, who did not want to be identified, says her child's health is too important to wait for the school to act.

"I had to pick up my daughter at 9 a.m. because it was so hot, her glasses were steamed up and she had beads of sweat on her face."

According to district officials, a breaker failed, shutting down the air conditioner at Walker Middle.

They brought in portable chillers to help cool down the building until repairs are made.

"Her polo was wet in the back and I was just like 'what have you been doing? Outside playing basketball? It's too hot to be outside.' She's like 'no, the air is not working, it hasn't been working all day.'"

Tomeka Pittman says her daughter, a sixth grade student at Walker, complained of 90-degree temperatures in class this week.

"It was hard to concentrate and all the kids in class, we made like handmade fans because it was really hot and they didn't have any fans," said Mikayla Wilkinson.

"When it's hot, you get brain-fogged," said Pittman. "It's hard to be still."

The school district says air conditioning will remain a challenge because the state has cut back dramatically on maintenance money.

Crews are responding immediately to repair requests, giving priority to issues with the biggest impact on students and staff.

"They're fixing it," said Pittman. "They have two people here on site, so that's been helpful. It would just be nice to be completely up so the kids are comfortable."

The district says it is spending tens of millions of local tax dollars on A/C work each year; instead of directing it into classrooms.

A spokesperson tells ABC Action News, more than 85 percent of schools are fine, but some schools are seeing more consistent issues because of aging HVAC systems.