Hillsborough parents claim classroom reached 90 degrees at open house

HCPS: fixes often a challenge due to budget

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Sophia Cavanillas is racing with excitement about her first day of kindergarten at Cirtus Park Elementary. But her mother admits, something didn't sit right at Tuesday's open house.

"Oh my, very, very hot," said Rosario Cavanillas. "Hot, hot, hot. Everybody sweat."

Cavanillas says parents and staff were baking in a classroom with no working air conditioning.

"Everybody's going to stay like 5 minutes and then everybody's leaving because it is too hot."

Several parents contacted ABC Action News Wednesday with concerns about hot classrooms the day before school starts.

Two parents said the thermostat in their child's classroom reached 92 degrees. That's about 16 degrees hotter than normal.

One Hillsborough teacher claims it's a county-wide issue, telling ABC Action News, "We were without air conditioning Tuesday, it was awful. There were several teachers that were feeling ill due to the lack of air."

District officials could not tell us how many work orders have been filed for HVAC repairs. But admits that air conditioning is a challenge for the district.

"As capital funds continue to decrease from the state, repair and replacement of our aging HVAC systems is an issue," said Tanya Arja, media outreach for Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The district says on average is costs roughly $3 million to replace an elementary school HVAC system, $5 million for middle school and $7-12 million for high school.

Hillsborough County Public Schools recently spent more than $300,000 on tech upgrades for the downtown board room.

We asked if that money should have been used to make sure all air conditioners are working before school starts. 

"The cost to upgrade the technology in the board room was $330,000, spent to ensure board meetings remained available for broadcast and web stream to the public. That particular agenda item was approved in 2015 and the items were purchased in December 2016."

Arja says the air conditioners have been fixed at Citrus Park in preparation for the start of school.

HCPS approved and are in the design phase to replace the HVAC systems this year at Williams Middle, Crestwood Elementary, Morgan Woods Elementary, BT Washington Elementary, Lee Elementary and Cypress Creek Elementary.

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