Portable AC units removed, but AC problems persist

Some classrooms have had climate issues resolved; others still have problems past removal of temporary units

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Dave Winter

The portable air-conditions that had been cooling classrooms without functioning AC sit in the main hallway on the morning of Sept. 29. The short-term rental contract had expired at the units were picked up in the afternoon.

Evie Barnard, news editor

Portable air-conditioning units lined the main hallways on Wednesday Sept. 29. These units had been cooling classrooms with non-functioning air conditioning.

The majority of [the AC issues] have been resolved, but we still have ongoing issues, so we are working on those every day.”

— Fine Arts Academy director Gabe Reyes

“With the start of school we had a lot of AC issues,” assistant principal and Fine Art Academy director Gabe Reyes said. “Ms. Griffith was a great advocate for the school, called everyone downtown that she could, and got some action and got us these portable coolers.”

AISD created a contract with a third-party company to provide AC units while maintenance workers attempted to fix the cooling issues. A brief contract was created under the assumption that the school’s cooling system would soon be fixed.

Yet despite the contracting ending, McCallum continues to have AC problems.

“The reason the contract was so short was because they believed we would be at a point right now where all the problems would be fixed,” Reyes said. “The majority of them have been resolved, but we still have ongoing issues, so we are working on those every day.”

Math teacher Stephanie Watson, confirmed in a comment on the MacJournalism Instagram account that the classrooms do not have functioning air-conditioning.

The third-party vendor that rented portable AC units for use in Mac classrooms retrieves the units at the end of the short-term lease contract on the afternoon of Sept. 29. (Dave Winter)

On the same post, retired math teacher Susan Ashton proposed a simple solution: “Bring back the AC units for teachers and classrooms that need them. Teachers and students are under enough stress. Why add to it?”

Fellow math teacher Paul Pew knows these issues first hand. His AC unit has continually broken down over the past school year, at one point lasting for seven days straight. On multiple occasions Pew has been forced to relocate his students to other rooms due to the intolerable working conditions.

Llike every organization they’re dealing with needs on one side and resources on the other. And resources are never unlimited.”

— math teacher Paul Pew

Yet despite the setback Pew has managed to maintain a good attitude.

“I’m not one to complain when something goes wrong in the building,” Pew said, “It’s old and it’s bound to. It is a little unpleasant but I always remind myself that air conditioning is a recent development. People somehow made it 10,000 years before this. And people right now in other parts of the world have classrooms that are 100 degrees and they are working.”

Pew trusts that the district will do what they can to fix the issue. That said, he wishes that he still had the portable AC unit in his classroom.

“For most of the time [when my AC was out] they had one of those stand-up units in here,” Pew said, “So it was comfortable. I wish it was still here. But like every organization they’re dealing with needs on one side and resources on the other. And resources are never unlimited.”

Reyes assures that the school is continuing to do everything in their power to fix the broken AC units.

Bring back the AC units for teachers and classrooms that need them. Teachers and students are under enough stress. Why add to it?”

— retired math teacher Susan Ashton

“We are continuing to put in work orders and apologize to both teachers and students. As of right now if we have a classroom that needs [a portable AC unit] we can request one from the district. This was just a short term fix that allowed us to operate as a school and gave the district time to go in and fix as many things that they could during that time.”

Reyes stresses that if teachers are having an issue with their classroom, to notify administrators.

“We’re continuing to stress to teachers to make sure you notify us and let us know when you are having cooling issues,” Reyes said, “We know it’s an ongoing issue, and we’re working hard on trying to get it solved.”