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Shutterstock/maroke
Shutterstock/maroke

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and members of the City Council on Wednesday, April 25 announced funding to equip every classroom in New York City with a functioning air conditioner by 2022.

“Making sure that all classrooms are air conditioned is one more commitment we’re making to ensure that nothing stands in the way of our students and a quality education,” said de Blasio, stressing that the city has dedicated just over $28 million over the next five years to purchase and install the units. “I’ve spoken with countless parents at town halls across the city and this issue has come up repeatedly. We’re investing in classrooms to create a safe, comfortable atmosphere to build on the progress our schools have made over the last few years.”

“This funding will ensure that every classroom across the city has air conditioning and that all students are provided with a safe, comfortable learning environment,” added Fariña. “Schools in older buildings have long struggled to keep instructional spaces cool during the summer months and now they will be able to install air conditioners in every classroom.”

According to officials, approximately 11,500 classrooms across the city do not have functioning air conditioners. Installation in the first cohort of schools will begin the summer, officials added, with the Department of Education working closely with the School Construction Authority (SCA) to prioritize summer school sites and assess school need “based on building utilization and ability to accommodate the upgrades.”

Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander had pushed for the funding through a campaign called #TooHotToLearn.

“New York City’s public school kids think this is the coolest thing Mayor de Blasio has ever done! But it is also a totally serious one,” the pol said in a statement, thanking the mayor for his support. “Through the #TooHotToLearn campaign, we heard so many stories of classrooms so hot that kids and teachers could not concentrate, those with asthma or special needs were unable to attend, even of kids fainting.”

“As a former educator, I have seen firsthand how poor ventilation and uncomfortable temperatures can negatively impact the learning process,” added Councilmember Mark Treyger, a former New Utrecht High School teacher. “It makes paying attention in class and staying alert difficult for students while creating undue stress for teachers and school staff. That’s why I have been advocating for air conditioners in all of our schools for some time now, and why I commend Mayor de Blasio and his administration for bringing more equity to our schools. Addressing the antiquated wiring in some of our school buildings to allow for cooling solutions also opens the door to increasing capacity for greater use of technology in our classrooms.”

Total funding for Fiscal Year 2018 is $5 million, $5.5 million for Fiscal Year 2019, $6 million for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 and $6.25 million for Fiscal Year 2022. In addition to funding for the air conditioner units and labor for installation, the SCA’s five-year Capital Plan includes approximately $50 million for electrical upgrades to support the installation of air conditioning units.

The city will reevaluate capital costs as installation progresses and adjust as necessary, the mayor said.

“This is a welcome victory for students, families, and school teachers and staff across the city,” said Treyger. “Every school should have proper cooling and ventilation because every student deserves to learn in a safe, comfortable, and healthy environment.”

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