Lack of air conditioning leaves Bell High School students sweating in classrooms through heat wave

Christiane Cordero Image
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Bell High students stuck in hot classrooms with no AC
The heat is being felt at Bell High School, where some classrooms do not have air conditioning.

BELL, Calif. (KABC) -- Two weeks into the school year, Bell High School is already testing the patience of students and staff.

Temperatures are expected to climb well into the 90s, and air conditioning in some classrooms doesn't work.

Student Maydalene Montesdeoca says there's a noticeable difference between rooms with air conditioning and those don't have it.

"The ones that have it, I tend to get chills and the ones that don't, I tend to sweat," she said.

There's no happy medium for Maydalene, who says she goes between too hot to too cold, depending on the hour.

Luckily, she doesn't feel it affects her ability to learn too much, unlike her classmate Christian Blanchet.

"You can't concentrate good because it's hot," he said. "And there's people around so it gets even hotter."

The Los Angeles Unified School District says these problems happen this time of year, when the temperatures climb and the system gets strained.

They said they're working aggressively to fix issues at every school that has submitted service requests, adding that for those schools: "... Maintenance and Operations is sending portable air conditioning units, box fans and/or air cleaning devices with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to provide additional ventilation and cooling to impacted spaces ..."

Bell High School classrooms without AC have box fans as the short-term fix.

In the long run, they plan to replace the entire HVAC system.

It's a big project, and doesn't just include Bell.

LAUSD started spending the $300 million-plus allocated to replace systems at several of its schools five years ago.

Xavier Damian, who graduated from Bell High School this year, said he never knew a fully air conditioned Bell High School.

Damian said he's not surprised the issue still persists.

"I was here four years, and it wasn't fixed," he said.

There are 14 HVAC-related service calls at Bell High School, and district-wide there are 3,003 as of Tuesday.

LAUSD says because of labor and supply shortages, it doesn't expect to start installing the new AC units at the campus until early next year, and it doesn't expect to fully install all the units for another year. In the meantime, portable AC units are being used for classrooms that need them.