SoCal school year off to hot start with no A/C at many campuses

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The unusually hot start to fall is causing problems for some local schools where air conditioners aren't working - or where cooling systems aren't even installed.

Just Monday alone, the Los Angeles Unified School District received some 300 calls for units not working.

The Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles was one of those campuses where there was no A/C. Some students said they had to go outside just to get fresh air.

The problems on this campus are among approximately 800 active air-conditioning service calls across the Los Angeles Unified School District.

"We have our technicians working extended shifts during extreme weather conditions like this," said Roger Finstad, LAUSD's director of maintenance and operations.

Schools in other parts of Southern California are having similar problems. For example, in Garden Grove, 25 of 67 elementary schools are without air conditioning.

On Nov. 8, voters there will have to opportunity to vote on Measure P, which would fund air conditioning for those remaining schools.

Until then, Principal Kristine Levenson at Crosby elementary says the school has contingency plans for hot-weather days.

"We have seven air-conditioned classrooms on campus so we double up the kids so they can share the space," Levenson said. "It's a little crowded but it is air-conditioned."

In Los Angeles, the district is using a $350 million bond to replace the oldest air-conditioning systems at roughly 70 school sites. Replacing all the others with brand new systems just isn't financially possible.

The district has about 800 school campuses in need and the projects cost $10-20 million each, Finstad said.

"Do the math - that's just a huge amount of dollars."

LAUSD technicians get to about 100 to 150 service calls a day, so the 800 backlog is considered manageable. When the school year started in mid-August, the backlog was around 1,400.
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