Concerned parents want A/C in East Oahu schools

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Students in East Oahu have been sweating in hot classrooms, without air conditioning long enough according a concerned parents.

In 2016, the State Legislature approved $100 million to cool public school classrooms, but none of the campuses on the East side benefited from that. Now parents are working with lawmakers to remedy the problem.

Temperatures soared into the 90s recently leaving thousands of students at schools in East Oahu sweating it out.

“The kids can’t concentrate the lights are not on all the time And you know that behavior is affecting the kids. they don’t want to sit still,” said Niu Valley Middle School teacher Brian Yamagata.

He and a group of concerned parents met with lawmakers Thursday to figure out how to get air conditioning into the six schools that make up the Kaiser Complex –Koko Head Elementary, Hahaione Elementary, Kamiloiki Elementary, Aina Haina Elementary, Niu Valley Middle School, Kaiser High School.

“I have two girls in Koko head Elementary I just got so sick of them telling me how hot it is every day,” said Maggie Hong. “my son just stays inside the Niu Valley Middle School music room, because it has A/C for the instruments, instead of playing basketball and being active.”

In August, the DOE introduced the Schools directed AC program, to help schools get AC faster. One caveat is the schools first need to have an electrical assessment done by the DOE.

Hong said both Koko Head Elementary and Niu Valley Middle School hired a private electrician to do it and that a DOE official said they would accept that.

Hong already met with a contractor for an estimate on AC installation.

“He quoted $25,000 a classroom but it could potentially he be lower…that’s the number he gave us as an estimate to install, purchase and all of the work including electrical that would go into it,” Hong explained.

There are 30 classrooms at Koko Head Elementary. If it costs $25,000 per classroom, the total cost should be $750,000 to put air conditioning in each and everyone of them.

That’s much cheaper than the roughly $100,000 per classroom the State just paid.

There is still much work to be done but Representative Gene Ward said they are moving in the right direction after their meeting Thursday.

“We’ve all agreed to do a CIP. We’ve all agreed that this is a really pressing problem. We have very little air conditioning compared to other places,” Ward said.

City Council Member Tommy Waters said they are exploring a number of options.

“A couple ideas came out of today. Perhaps let’s find a public/private partnership. Let’s get these energy companies, maybe they can put a rise of solar farms on our public schools in order to fund the air conditioning…If we can achieve our goal without using taxpayer money that would be optimal that would be ideal,” Waters said.

There are 11,000 DOE classrooms in the State. Currently 6,200 have air conditioning according to the DOE.

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