Lack of state funding leaving dozens of Hillsborough County schools with aging AC systems

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — Dozens of Hillsborough County Schools are in need of new air conditioning units.

Williams Middle Magnet School is one of ten getting those new units this summer.

"We started the year with about three weeks of no air conditioning," said Chris Farkas, Deputy Superintendent for Operation.

But there are more than 40 other schools in the county that need them too and have to wait because of a lack of state funding.

“It all comes down to money," Farkas said.

On average, this operation will take about $5 million for middle schools and $7-12 million for a high school. Officials say unfortunately AC units are not typically seen as a priority.

"Our goal is to preserve the classroom environment so we’re not gonna take money out of the classrooms to go fix air-conditioning," he said. "At the same time there becomes a push and pull where if you’re not replacing the air conditioning, it does affect the classrooms on a daily basis."

The project at Williams Middle Magnet School started in March and crews are now working rapidly to get it all done and ready for school by August 3, just a day before teachers arrive.

"The summer may feel short to them, it feels a lot shorter to us!. This is our busy time of year," Farkas said.

The county has mapped out which schools are next on the list to get new AC units over the next few years. Unfortunately, some of those schools won’t see construction until 2021.

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