Foundation raised money to cool school

Foundation raised money to cool school

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Momilani Elementary School principal Doreen Higa said before air conditioning came to her campus in 2006, students suffered from the stifling climate in classrooms.

It was hot."We tried putting oscillating fans. All they're doing is oscillating the room with warm air," she said.She said a parent at the school had an idea.

Keith Robbins felt the school could raise money to buy AC and not rely on the Department of Education for relief. He got other parents involved."They were talking about air conditioning the classrooms, the whole school," Higa said.

Those parents formed a non-profit organization. The Momilani Elementary School Foundation raised tens of thousands of dollars during an air conditioning campaign."Over a period of two and a-half years, classroom by classroom, box units got put in," Higa said.

The window air conditioning units worked well for years. But they were noisy."Those things would rattle and make a lot of noise. It would actually add to the sound in the classroom," third-grade teacher Masaru Uchino said.

The Momilani Foundation launched another fundraiser to convert the AC to a quieter split system. Unchio said fundraisers and community support made it happen."Without that there's no way our school on its own would be able to afford the air conditioning," he said.

Now all seventeen classrooms are cooled. Windows are sealed with Plexiglas. Louvers can be opened to let in light without letting out air conditioned air.

The DOE said like Momilani, other schools that want to raise money to buy their own air conditioning must work with the department to ensure buildings can support AC systems. Air conditioning systems and installation need to meet DOE specifications.

Higa believes other public schools that want to beat the heat can do what her school did."Would you believe 25 percent of our kids here at this school today have asthma, allergy or a combination. The air conditioning helps them," she said.

There are 420 students at Momilani. Every building except the cafeteria is now air conditioned because of a cool idea.

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