NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Nanakuli High School and Intermediate, partial relief from oppressive heat in the classrooms came in the form of donated fans. "While everybody bickers and tries to figure out who's supposed to fix it, the kids are suffering," Loretta Ables Sayre said. Through her Facebook post Ables Sayre raised enough money to buy 50 floor fans for the campus. "I think I have 600 followers, nothing huge," she said. "As of today it's been seen almost 30,000 times."
But instead of teachers buying fans or donation drives, shouldn't the DOE buy fans immediately to cool classrooms? "All of that comes at a principal's request. So we wait for a principal to make a request, it goes into our system. And we're in the process of marching through those as well," DOE Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson said.
The Department of Education's heat abatement plan includes ceiling fans for some schools, plus AC for others, and cooling methods like flushing hot air from classrooms. In the meantime, HSTA President Corey Rosenlee told the Board of Education the DOE needs to remove what he calls roadblocks to donating air conditioning units to schools. "If we can make this process easier there are businesses and teachers that are willing to pay for the actual units," he said.
So how much money does DOE have to cool classrooms this fiscal year? The legislature appropriated $15 million for heat abatement, special education programs and science facility upgrades. Carlson said a small slice is left to cool schools. "I would say roughly $2 million to $3 million that we're going to be left up with, given the fact that it's in that bucket," he said.
The DOE installed ceiling fans in 41 classrooms at Nanakuli. Ables Sayre hopes to raise enough funds to buy 250 floor fans for the school.
"We know that it won't be very cool but it will make a difference in trying to circulate the warm air in the classrooms," principal Darin Pilialoha said.
In a separate effort, ride share company Uber picked up fans and portable AC units for State Representative Matt Lopresti's "Cool Schools 4 Ewa" initiative. The company also planned to contribute fans to the cause.