BCPS Releasing School Air Conditioning Priority List
The list will be presented at a Sept. 18 Board of Education meeting.
Hot weather makes Jamie Papas' daughter "very cranky."
The first grade student at Lutherville Laboratory Elementary School has asked her mother to stay home from school, especially on days she has gym class. The school has classrooms without air conditioning.
"And it's really sad because she loves school," said Papas, head of the school's Climate Control Committee with the Parent Teacher Association.
She said the committee has compiled a list of students with diabetes, sickle cell anemia, asthma and those prone to seizures and strokes who have a more pressing need for cool classrooms.
A thermometer from one of the classrooms at 11 a.m. Aug. 29 showed the temperature at 90 degrees, according to a reading recorded by Papas. She said readings have regularly showed temperatures in the 80s and 90s.
"There are parents that rotate bringing in popsicles to students to keep them cool," she said. "I just thought that was appalling."
During a Baltimore County Board of Education meeting on Sept. 18, officials plan to release a priority list of schools needing air conditioning.
"Our goal is to get all our schools air conditioned," Superintendent S. Dallas Dance said on Thursday.
County officials have previously said it would cost between $400 and $450 million to install air conditioning in schools that are without it. If Dance's proposed capital budget is approved, 45 county schools will still remain without air conditioning.
Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman, said in July that schools are picked for air conditioning based on speed of completion and cost.
Papas questioned how Lutherville Lab could be evaluated if feasibility studies have not yet been conducted. She noted that portions of the school including the front office, computer laboratory and faculty lounge already have air conditioning. The studies are generally conducted after a school has been slated for a renovation.
"[The school system's physical facilities department] is pretty familiar with the state of the schools," said Charles Herndon, a Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman. "We look for where the critical needs are and where we can devote the resources we have."
Herndon pointed out that the Department of Physical Facilities will often add air conditioning infrastructure to schools that need it if there is already a renovation for something else scheduled.
"If the opportunity is there, we'll take advantage of it," he said.