State provides progress report on cooling classrooms

The state has a goal to cool 1,000 classrooms by the end of last year.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education received an update on where things stand.

According to the Department of Education, 209 schools have air conditioners in the classroom, 139 had ceiling fans installed, and seven schools received electrical upgrades.

Upgrades are necessary so air conditioning systems can be installed in older schools, and to prevent the department’s electrical bill from ballooning.

“In the context of what the department has to work with, we were pleased that they have been able to drive this process through at the pace they have,” said board member Grant Chun.

Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, says he’s worried about the department’s heat abatement budget.

“The problem is once this $100 million is gone, what’s next?” Rosenlee said. “Because in a couple of months, what’s going to happen again is tens of thousands of children are going to classrooms that are in the 90s or 100 degrees, and what is our answer toward solving that problem? We’ve got to find a way, one to fund, continually fund the air conditioning, but also to make sure we bring down these costs.”

In addition to the air conditioning units already installed, the department says 804 units have been ordered.

You can track the department’s heat abatement progress online here.

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