Heat wreaks havoc with old school AC's - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Heat wreaks havoc with old school AC's

August 9, 2007

Albany-  One hundred degree temperatures have taken their toll on aging buildings in the Dougherty County School System. Twenty five year old Air Conditioning systems are breaking down under the stress of these triple-digit temperatures. The schools are doing what they can to keep students as comfortable as possible. A thermometer in classrooms Thursday revealed just how hot it is.

The first three days of classes in the Dougherty County School System have been hotter than usual for students. Three schools have had air conditioner failures. It's hottest in 12 classrooms at Monroe High School where we found temperatures above 84 degrees.

"Monroe, Westover, South Georgia Regional Achievement Center are all just 25, 26 year old systems that have a 15 year life span and we're doing our best to keep them working until we can have a renovation project and can replace them," said Bob Fowler, DCSS Facilities Co-director.

Many projects however are two years away, so until then, the district's five man facilities crew is doing what they can to keep students comfortable. Friday they'll install window units at Monroe. Getting parts to repair these older systems is difficult. It will be next week before parts are available to fix the air conditioning in Westover High's 9th Grade Academy where it's 79.

"It's got four fans in that unit, one fan broke they had to stop the unit, shut it down, pull that fan and then start it back up the day before yesterday afternoon finished," said Principal Gene Melvin, Westover High School.

Air Conditioners have been repaired at South Georgia Regional Achievement Center, but they're still waiting on units at Lake Park Elementary where the old units were take out and a manufacturer delay has held up the new units that should have arrived in June.

"It's kind of one of the situations where the old units are gone the new units haven't made it here," said Fowler.

"We've tried to circulate the cool air from the gym which is on the same hallway, it is cool and so that has helped," said Principal Christine Whitfield.

They're also using fans and portable units to cool rooms to 80 degrees, just five degrees higher than where temperatures are typically kept. Now a days students are so accustom to air conditioning because most have it at home that higher temperatures could be distracting, but school officials say students will be moved to cooler classrooms if they become uncomfortable.

Dougherty County Schools facilities crews have worked overtime to fix the problems. They hope to have it all done by the end of next week.

Many schools in the Dougherty County System are opting to keep students inside during recess and canceling after school activities because of soaring temperatures.

It's up to each school principal if students will be allowed outside for lunch or gym class. Many of the school principals we talked to today said they were instructing teachers to keep students indoors when the heat advisories kicked in around noon.

"It's too hot to go outside now. Even our athletic teams are not allowed to practice until the heat index gets to a certain point, usually six or seven o'clock before they get on the practice field," said Melvin.

Dougherty County Schools athletic teams, after school programs, and bands can not practice outside if the heat index is above 105. Thursday, Sherwood Christian Academy also canceled all after school outdoor activities.

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