SPUSD Board discusses hot weather issue again

June 11, 2014
Santa Paula News

The issue of hot weather and even hotter classrooms came up before the Santa Paula Unified School District Board last week.

The board is wrestling with the problem of what to do about overheated classrooms during exceptionally hot days. Teachers and parents have been complaining about the problem for some time and the issue was back at Wednesday’s meeting. 

Superintendent Alfonso Gamino said he would meet with teachers and classified employees to brainstorm about possible solutions. One idea has been suggested to establish cooling centers at the schools. Installing ceiling fans was also suggested. 

Yuri Calderon, a consultant working on the District Facilities Master Plan, said the issue of air conditioning is a challenging matter. He said they estimate that it would take about 15 million dollars to install air conditioning in all the schools. He told the board, “Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with aging facilities as you have in Santa Paula, if you were to go forward with a bond program essentially air conditioning would be primarily the only thing you could do for the next 5-to-10 years with a number that size. If you were to go forward with a bond program in the 35 to 45 million dollar range, which is what we’ve been discussing, the access to the initial cache of money that you could access, given your assessed valuation, would be under 15 million dollars.”

The district does have a board policy called, “Guidelines for Preventing Heat Stress.” It starts out, “To counteract heat stress, all district personnel must pay attention to weather conditions and use common sense and good judgment for modifying activities and/or school days.”

The document even provides a chart for considering modifications to activities or schedules. It state that 82 degrees or less is considered normal for good learning conditions. If the temperature reaches above 82 and up to 95 degrees or above the plan calls for modifying physical activity and even schedule change.

Superintendent Gamino told he board that the guidelines are good, “However, I think we need to look into what other mitigation measures we may need to have in place for the whole unified district.” He noted that any policy changes affecting schedules would need to be negotiated with the unions. 

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