In April, 2017, de Blasio and the City Council announced a five-year, $28 million plan to install air conditioning in all classrooms by 2022.
However, with some schools in New York being forced to implement early dismissal on the first day of classes due to high temperatures, suddenly the matter is taking on added significance.
The thermometer hit 90 degrees on Wednesday, Sept. 5, as students entered their new classrooms for the first time. Thursday wasn’t much better with the temperature rising to 85 degrees.
The announced time frame does not sit well with state Sen. Marty Golden who believes the project should be completed much sooner.
“Four more years might be a campaign slogan, but it’s a lousy wait time for air conditioners in schools,” said Golden. He wants the mayor to have the installation project completed by next summer.
Former District 20 Community Education Council President Laurie Windsor agrees that five years is too long, but questioned the feasibility of completing the work within the year.
“Of course I’d like to see it done and the sooner the better and I think five years is much too long, but one year might be pushing it,” Windsor told this paper.
She said that realistically it would be nice if the job could be completed within two to two and half years. “These kids must be sweltering in the gyms and auditoriums,” Windsor said. “They can’t concentrate when they’re so focused on their discomfort.”
Golden also fears that poor ventilation and the stifling heat will impact children’s ability to learn. “Thousands of classrooms are without air conditioners and tens of thousands of students and their teachers will be working in intolerable conditions,” he said.
Golden called it unacceptable that according to the mayor’s plan, children starting school this year won’t see air conditioning in their classrooms until they are in the fourth grade.
“I’ve been hearing from teachers,” Golden told this paper. “One reported that her classroom was 95 degrees with humidity, real feel was 105, according to the digital thermometer. She said she had four fans and they did nothing. We just can’t have students wait four years to complete this project.”