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Ohio Legislators Discuss Funding For School Air Conditioning

Sep 5, 2018

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 Columbus City Schools were closed Wednesday because of continued high heat and humidity. 

The district released students early three times in the last 10 days, and it's not the only Ohio school system struggling with high temperatures.  State lawmakers are considering ideas to help students beat the heat. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.  

Before air conditioning became common, many k-12 students went back to school after Labor Day. There are bills in the Ohio House and Senate to allow or mandate districts to do that. But with districts shutting schools because of extreme heat, Republican Representative Niraj Antani had another idea. He sent a letter to the state school superintendent, asking him for a list of all school buildings without AC and a cost estimate for installing it in those buildings. And while he’s a conservative who likes local control for schools, Antani says the state needs to make that happen.

 

“In this past capital bill, we put $650 million through the School Facilities Commission which was going to fund projects in 49 districts and create 40 new schools.   I think before we build one more new school in Ohio, we need to ensure that every other school is up to grade.”

 

Republican House Education Committee chair Andy Brenner says it’s up to local communities to decide whether they want to provide air conditioning for their schools. And if they don’t want to do that, he says they could delay start dates or make up lost days at the end of the year.

 

“Schools are allowed snow days and schools are closed many times in Northern Ohio for a couple of weeks out of the year but they make up the time. Same things can happen here.”

 

As for bills that would push the start date for schools back to after Labor Day, Brenner says the challenge would be with the standardized testing schedule. Educators who have testified against those plans say they would create homework for students over the winter break instead of allowing them to take up new courses in January.