State promises to cool 1,000 classrooms before school year begins

The governor had hoped to cool 1,000 classrooms by the end of last year.

On Friday, the state Department of Education told us it’s going to happen before the start of the new school year.

KHON2 got a look Friday at the progress that’s been made at Campbell High School, one of the hottest schools in the state and third on the department’s priority list. Efforts range from heat-reflective paint to fully updated air conditioning in some classrooms.

The DOE’s tour took us through portable classrooms, the school cafeteria, and classrooms that are all in various stages of being cooled.

We began in one of Campbell’s portable classrooms that had in the past seen temperatures over 90 degrees daily.

Now the room is outfitted with temporary air conditioning units, which, like a number of other portables on the campus, are powered by solar panels on the classroom’s roof.

Dann Carlson, assistant superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services, says 456 classrooms have had AC units installed with just over 1,000 units ordered and out to bid.

“All contacts were awarded, well over 1,000,” he told KHON2. “There was a clause that it should be done by June 30. We set that date knowing it would give us a buffer so by the time school starts, we would hit 1,000 classrooms.”

As another effort to cool students, trees are being planted in the courtyard at Campbell, meant to keep kids cool while walking to class.

The next stop was a portable with a fully installed AC unit, off the grid and powered by solar panels on the roof.

Shayne Greenland, Campbell’s vice principal, says teachers are thankful for the progress that’s being made.

“Everything has been positive. Anytime you can go from having nothing to getting something, the teachers have been supportive. Students love it,” Greenland said.

In the cafeteria, large ceiling fans are being installed in the coming days, replacing smaller and less effective fans.

“This is a good first step,” said Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. “There are going to be thousands of kids in school once it starts that will have ACs, and that is better than before.”

He added, “There are still a lot of things that both the department and community need to do to make sure kids have a conducive environment (to learn).”

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