Appeal of air conditioning not cooling at CHS

Within the first months of school, the rising temperatures inside the warm classrooms of Carmel High School have become a distraction to student learning and teacher teaching. Despite the average high temperature in the Carmel area at 80 degrees for the first eight weeks of school, according to the Weather Channel, not much consideration has been put towards making air conditioning school-wide.

Currently, the only rooms with air conditioning include rooms with large components of technology that generate their own heat and some of the newer classrooms on campus.

AC chart

According to CHS principal Rick Lopez, two compelling factors that have kept the school from adding air conditioning are the financial burden that it causes and the typically low number of intolerable days each school year.

“We had a pretty warm start of school this year, and we had some warm days last year, and I don’t know whether it is global warming, but there has been an increase in the number of hot days in the past few years.” Lopez says. “However, there is resistance to air conditioning. For one, the community doesn’t have air conditioning, and it’s not common in our area, geographically. It’s a tremendous expense to provide air conditioning, so it’s a major financial commitment.”

Among the many teachers whose rooms do not house air conditioning systems, some have set up lesson plans in cooler environments so students will be less affected by the heat.

“A few days during the heat, we tried to sit out on the concrete walkway because it was a little cooler in the shade,” says Whitney Grummon, who teaches AP Language and Composition, “but I have classes of 30 kids and to teach to 30 kids while they are spread along the walkway is not an ideal situation.”

Likewise, music teacher Brian Handley escapes the escalating temperatures of his room by making plans for rehearsals for his music ensembles in the cool-aired theater.

According to Lopez, plans have been made to retro-fit high classroom windows to allow warm air to escape out the window. But Spanish instructor Olga Chandler believes retro-fitting windows will only help bring down the temperature a couple of degrees during the extra-warm days.

“We’re spending money in the wrong places,” Chandler says. “We have money for AstroTurf and Olympic-sized pool, a new library, a new theater and a new administration building, while students and faculty bake inside classrooms.”

Still, French teacher Suzanne Marden believes that a retro-fitted window would allow a breeze from the ocean to push into her non-air conditioned room.

“I don’t think we are solving the problem, but we are trying to mitigate the problem,” Lopez says. “The concern is still there, and we are still trying to work through it. And as principal I am not done keeping the concern at the forefront of our relationship with the district.”
-Joyce Doherty