Hawaii's educators fed up with slow progress to cool classrooms

D.O.E.'s progress to cool schools
Ewa Beach Elementary School (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Ewa Beach Elementary School (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Jennifer Pemintel (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Jennifer Pemintel (Image: Hawaii News Now)
John Clark (Image: Hawaii News Now)
John Clark (Image: Hawaii News Now)

EWA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Teacher Jennifer Pimentel dreads the start of the school year. She anticipates weeks of suffocating temperatures in a classroom with no
air conditioning.

"I myself personally moved to a different room because I was told that we would get air conditioning throughout the summer. Unfortunately, that's not what happened," she said.

Contractors' bids to air condition 32 portables, including the one at Ewa Beach, ranged from about $80,000 to well over $300,000 per portable.

The Department of Education re-started the process to bring prices down.

Pimentel wants to see faster progress.

"A lot of the teachers and a lot of parents also, we just want some kind of relief," she said.

Statewide as of July 12, the Department of Education had put portable AC units into 109 classrooms, installed ceiling fans in 139 classrooms, and cooled the roofs of 403 portable buildings.

John Clark's fifth-grader attends Ewa Beach Elementary.

He wants the DOE needs to do a better job communicating to parents exactly when their child's school will be cooled.

"We understand it's not going to happen overnight. But tell us when it can happen. Manage our expectations and help us to get to some form of hope that our children will not be attending school in a classroom that's over 100 degrees," he said.

Pimentel's been teaching at Ewa Beach for eleven years. Last year she suffered from heat exhaustion.

She's fed up with delays.

"The humidity is going to go up. The heat index is going to go through the roof.  We're going to just have to tolerate it and suffer through it. I don't think that's adequate. That should never be an answer when it comes to education," she said.

On Friday the bidding process opens again. This time the DOE is considering 36 contractors for the work.

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