Hillsborough Co. parents, teachers frustrated with hot schools

District overwhelmed with A/C repair needs
Posted at 5:57 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 17:57:27-04

Thousands of students in nearly 200 Hillsborough County Schools are sweating it out in class because air conditioning units are falling apart. By some estimates, 25 schools have a/c units needing a total overhaul at a cost of more than $100 million.

You can definitely work up a sweat, playing in the park. But kids spending time outside Tuesday, say the steamiest part of their day is sitting in school.

"Very hot!" said student Katherine Johnson.

Teachers and students and McFarlane Elementary in Tampa say temps in the building are reaching 82 degrees and above on a regular basis.

"This is my 28th year in Hillsborough County, and I don't believe I've ever been without air conditioning even for two days, much less 11. But this is day 11 with no a/c," said teacher Heather McDonald.

Teachers and families are getting more worried about how it's affecting the health, safety, and education of the kids.

"Some of them aren't focused anyway, so then when you get the heat, that makes it twice as hard, it does," said teacher Denise Domeier.

"I think with all the attention on standard testing and getting kids ready for the classroom, it's important for the kids to be comfortable in class," said grandparent Patricia Weaver.

The district says there's been a big increase in requests this year to fix air conditioning units countywide. It insists maintenance crews check every issue and work to get things fixed fast. If a building is without air more than 24 hours a chiller can be brought in. But so far, teachers at McFarlane Elementary say no work has been done to fix their air, or provide temporary relief. The only solution they've been offered is moving kids to other classrooms, which takes away space from the library or music room, adds disruption, and moves them away from classroom materials.

"They're punishing us for not having any money.  They're punishing us and the kids," said McDonald.

Even if the district puts aside more money, with the amount of issues, it will probably be a while before every teacher and kid can cool off.

"Fix my air conditioner!  My kids need it, i need it, and we need it.  I have a good class that makes their best effort, we just need some help," McDonald said.

These teachers, parents, and students are just hoping if enough of them, speak loudly enough, something will finally get done to fix all the a/c issues