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Polk County teachers union says district has an A/C problem. Here's what the schools say

The district says HVAC techs are being deployed and working overtime and on weekends to fix the units. Portable AC units are also being used in schools.
The district says HVAC techs are being deployed and working overtime and on weekends to fix the units. Portable A/C units are also being used in schools.

Some school districts in Central Florida are grappling with broken air conditioning systems as students are returning.

A Polk County Schools teachers union says as many as 15 schools in the district could be without air conditioning for the first day of school Friday.

Polk Education Association filed a class action grievance against the district over the faulty A/C units they say are either not working or not working at their full capacity.

The union listed these schools as having potential problems:

  1. North Lakeland Elementary School
  2. Rosabelle W. Blake Academy
  3. Lake Gibson Middle School
  4. Spessard L. Holland Elementary
  5. Socrum Elementary School
  6. Davenport School of the Arts
  7. Horizon Elementary School
  8. George W. Jenkins High School
  9. Sandhill Elementary School
  10. Alturus Elementary School
  11. Traviss Technical College
  12. Bartow Middle School
  13. Crystal Lake Middle School
  14. Boswell Elementary School
  15. Kathleen Elementary School

In Brevard County on Thursday, Eau Gallie High School was closed on what was supposed to be its first day of school, because of malfunctioning cooling systems.
The A/C problems come as Central Florida is experiencing record high temperatures, with multiple excessive heat warnings and real feel temperatures over 100 degrees.

In a statement, Polk County Schools says the air conditioning units have been, “placed under extreme pressure” by the heat wave.

PCPS says it's taking these steps to address the issue:

  • "HVAC technicians and additional teams of maintenance staff are being deployed to schools to assess and prioritize work orders.
  • All available portable A/C systems are being deployed from our inventory and will be used first in critical areas, such as portables and interior classrooms.
  • We are authorizing overtime pay for staff to handle work orders, including on nights and weekends.
  • PCPS-contracted vendors will be assisting with larger projects such as installing new A/C units and duct work.
  • We are constantly working to upgrade the HVAC equipment in our schools. Approximately $6 million has been spent to purchase more than 500 new A/C units. Installation is taking place as soon as possible.
  • Students in classrooms without working A/C will be relocated to other areas on campus until fixes are made."
Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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