Chilly temps aren't slowing state's push to cool classrooms

Chilly temps aren't slowing state's push to cool classrooms
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Education is waiting to hear how much legislators will give them to cool Hawaii's classrooms. But in the meantime, they're making progress with what they have.

"After last summer we have treated this like an emergency," said DOE facilities Superintendent Dann Carlson.

He gives the DOE an A-minus for effort, leaving room for improvement. "We've been actively pursuing the top 10 schools on our list, given the funding that we had from last year," he said.

Air conditioning or other cooling equipment will be installed in those schools during the summer, when classes are out.

Plus the DOE bought about 400 portable air conditioning units, installed portable ACs in more than 100 classrooms, and is upgrading electrical systems on seven campuses.

"We've covered well over 370 portables with a reflective type of coating that is proven to keep the temperature inside about 10 degrees cooler," Carlson said.

Also, ceiling fans have been installed in 135 portables.

The DOE is also working deeper down its priority list of schools needing cooling. In the last two weeks, inspectors checked out 32 schools.

"Last week they presented us an initial concept of how they want to make those classrooms in those 32 schools thermally comfortable," Carlson said.

Gov. David Ige wants 1,000 classrooms cooled by year's end. Lawmakers will decide on how much money will go toward that goal.

Carlson said the funding is all about creating environments conducive to learning.

"It is nice and cool out right now but we have not given up, and we have been continually and actively engaged on it," he said.

To follow the DOE's progress on cooling schools, click here.

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