LAUSD making AC fixes, installing new units before school year begins

VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District has 33,000 classrooms to get ready for the new school year, and the district is making sure all the air conditioners are working.

At Van Nuys Elementary School, blinds were closed to keep the building cool. The school is getting set for a $12.5 million air conditioning upgrade. The project won't be done until 2022, so students meantime will be relocated to bungalows.

Sixth grader Layla Chehrenegar's school, George Ellery Hale Middle School in Woodland Hills, is one of 70 school sites getting its HVAC systems replaced as the school board pledges air conditioning in every classroom.

"It's hard to focus on you work," Chehrenegar said. "It's just hot."

As technicians made the rounds to check, there were 1,698 calls for service in just 24 hours.

"We are doing a lot of major maintenance projects to bring a lot of these systems up to par. You know, on average, probably about 35 to 50 years on some of them," said Steve Johnson, area facilities service director.

Voters passed a $342 million bond measure to help. Now, it's a balancing act, responding to urgent calls and installing new systems or rehabbing the older units before they become emergencies.

The fixes are more complex than you might think. Some units are as many as 60 years old. If parts don't exist, workers must fabricate them, and many of today's technicians aren't trained to fix antiques.

A crew of 202 technicians are tasked district wide, and their work is spelling relief for teachers and students.

"We don't have to worry about our heat, we can focus on our schoolwork and it will be just a lot easier on everyone," Chehrenegar added.

The new units are expected to last at least 15 years, according to technicians.
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