Parent Calls For Action on Schools Without A/C
Written by Renata Di Gregorio, WDTV
It's been over 80 degrees this week, and that's not in a classroom. Beverly Elementary is one of five schools in Randolph County without air conditioning. Now a concerned parent is saying the community and officials need to join together to make sure the classroom isn't a hot environment, only a learning one.
The school building was built and then added on to during the 50's, 70's, and early 80's. Unsurprisingly, there is no central air conditioning. The question of the building's electrical capacity for one is an issue in itself.
Missy McCollam is the President of the Parent-Teacher Organization and has a 5th grader at Beverly. She says she thinks "many times the temperatures are above the CDC requirements for safety."
"The kids are not having a positive learning environment," McCollam said. "So if we prop the doors open we're compromising their safety, if we keep the doors closed we're compromising their health. So it needs to be dealt with sort of in an urgent manner because as the school year grows longer, the environment grows less suitable for learning."
The school has been working with different organizations and taken steps to try to cool it off. There are small air conditioning units in some rooms and fans in the hallways. Principal Paul Zickefoose says the doors are opened in the mornings before students arrive to cool things down and the children are given water throughout the day.
"It does get hot on certain afternoons and so that's why it's important for us to keep the children hydrated and keep water in their bodies," Zickefoose said.
Zickefoose says things have been more pleasant lately, we're going into fall, but McCollam has suggestions for some more permanent solutions.
"You know, those moneys are not easy to come up with but I'm really hoping that we can, like, maybe appoint a task team and at least get someone in to analyze those schools. We can't rewire the whole school, I'm sure, all five of them, but even small steps equal big steps. So if we can come up with some local funding maybe we can approach some state funding to match those funds," McCollam told 5 News.
She suggests making new policies involving extreme weather, looking at state policy on school year length, and creating a community action project.
McCollam presented the issue and her ideas to the Randolph County Board of Education at a meeting and emphasized they were extremely responsive. Superintendent Pamela Hewitt was unable to be reached, but at the meeting reportedly agreed to work on the issue.
"Our board and our superintendents were extremely receptive and positive about this," McCollam said. "So I'm hoping that our community can join together and come up with some steps that we can take."
McCollam says she would be willing to take a group to the capital to speak about the issue.