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HomeLetter to the EditorTo the Editor: We Need Air Conditioning in Local Schools

To the Editor: We Need Air Conditioning in Local Schools

Mamaroneck High School is one of the schools without cooling in hot weather

To the Editor:

There were so many fans blowing in the classroom, the students couldn’t hold down the paper on their desks.  This is what the beginning of school year looked like for some elementary school students in the Mamaroneck School District in September 2023, when a streak of 90-plus degree days had the teachers scrambling to cool the classrooms, and parents flabbergasted to discover their kids’ classrooms did not have air conditioning.

Lack of cooling in the school buildings has been an issue for a long time. The architectural firm contracted by the Mamaroneck Board of Education noted that air conditioning has been under discussion for at least 5 years.  The risk of a student or staff passing out from heat in the classroom, which has happened in Mamaroneck and other nearby school districts, is keeping some parents on edge.  “Our children and teachers deserve a safe and comfortable learning environment.  It is not a luxury.  It is a basic necessity”, said one Murray parent.

The work related to major enhancements such as central air is mainly funded through a capital bond approved by voters every 5 years.

The next bond, proposed by the Mamaroneck Board of Education, does not include air conditioning projects and is due to be voted on May 21.  According to recent cost estimates released by district’s architect, the cost of central air per school is approximately $7M.  At its April 9 2024 meeting, the district administration shared some good news for elementary school parents.  It plans to add window A/C units to the elementary classrooms by the end of summer.

Some elementary parents are concerned, though, as they look out into the future.  Hommocks and Mamaroneck High School, which together represent the majority of district’s student enrollment, are not part of the announced A/C window unit work, and capital bond does not include air conditioning projects.  “The only equitable way to address the problem is to make sure the schools have A/C for all students, which means working on Hommocks and MHS also.  These are both very cost-effective projects considering they impact approximately 3,000 students and the cost of the two would still be below the 2019 bond amount.  We need to make sure the air conditioning work is included in the bond and the parents are given an opportunity to vote on it.  Without them being included in the bond, the community has not been given a choice to vote on it”.  The capital bond is voted as a separate item from the school’s proposed budget.

The key, some in the community believe, is for parents to make their voices heard.  By the time the hot days arrive, it’s already too late and the impact is so debilitating.  “Parents need to consider the wide-ranging impacts of hot classrooms, from health risks, the impact on Regent’s exams and state tests, to the safety of the teachers and students in the building”, said another Murray parent.  “This issue is not going away and there is no reason to believe it will be less expensive to address in the future”.

The district’s school elections are on May 21, at which the voters will choose 3 candidates for the Board of Education as well as on vote on the school budget and the capital bond.

Julia Cherashore, Larchmont
Justin DuPree, Larchmont

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