HILLSBOROUGH: Warm temperatures remind school district of its need for AC

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By Andrew Martins, Managing Editor
With the warmer weather of summer fast approaching and the school year coming to a close, Hillsborough Township School District officials said they are still working to address ongoing air conditioning issues that cropped up back in September., Details emerged during the board of education’s meeting on Monday, just days after temperatures rose to the mid-90s for most of the previous week., “We know that this is of some urgency and that it’s something we want to work on,” Business Administrator Aiman Mahmoud said. “We definitely know that this has to be addressed.”, From Wednesday, May 17 to Friday, May 19, the high outdoor heat specifically resulted in high temperatures in classrooms at Auten Road Intermediate School and Hillsborough Middle School., Board member Dana Boguszewski said she learned of the uncomfortable conditions from her son, who attends ARIS., “My son goes to this school and he came home and he was drenched,” she said. “It’s not healthy for our children. It’s not healthy for our staff. There’s got to be something we can do.”, According to Superintendent Dr. Jorden Schiff, the district is still working out how it can address its air conditioning problem, even after having contracted an AC provider to install three 25-ton units at ARIS and HMS., “We have been making progress, but it hasn’t been as quick as we would have liked it,” Schiff said., Those three units, two at ARIS and one at HMS, are being used to provide cool air to the gymnasiums at those schools. Once cool, teachers have the option to sign up on an “excessive heat schedule” with school administration to allow for students to cool off throughout the day., In addition to those measures, Boguszewski said she heard that some teachers were bringing their own fans into the classroom in a bid to make conditions more comfortable for themselves and their students., The latest bout of uncomfortably hot classrooms echoes a similar situation that took place throughout all of the district’s schools at the beginning of the year., Near the end of the school year’s first week, educators were forced to employ different tactics to cool their rooms and the students under their tutelage when unseasonably warm weather pushed the temperatures up to 95 degrees in some instances., Much like last week, teachers cycled classrooms through existing air conditioned areas, such as school libraries or auditoriums, often disrupting instructional time., Since then, district officials said moves have been made to address the problem., “We have been pushing the architect to expedite this. Our best scenario was to have the air conditioning done by now, but it looked like with just all the approvals between the local town approval and department of education (slowed things down),” Mahmoud said. “We’re not done with that fight. Our goal is to get those units in as soon as possible.”, During the May 22 meeting, officials voted in favor of a measure that allowed the district’s architect to do bid specification work for its HVAC systems., “The board is moving forward with a full comprehensive air conditioning plan for ARIS. In fact, we signed off on paperwork for ARIS, as well as the middle school for the plan design,” Schiff said., Though the issue has yet to be resolved, Schiff pointed out that some wings at Hillsborough High School and other areas within the district were now properly air conditioned., Looking forward, Mahmoud said the district will continue looking for ways to not only address the issue, but to do it effectively., “All of this stuff, and I don’t say money replaces the comfort of instruction of students and staff, but the adding of the bills for those units come with an unbelievable price tag,” Mahmoud said. “We want to do it the right way, which is to add the units to the individual classrooms.”