School board addresses high temperatures at high school

By Michael Howlett Staff Writer

August 21, 2013

Despite cooler weather than usual in August, heat was the main topic of concern during the Carroll County School Board meeting on Aug. 13. Due to the continuing work on the new HVAC system, temperatures inside Carroll County High School were in the high 80s in some areas of the main building on the opening day of school.

Temporary air conditioning units are being used, but Dennis Cole, clerk of the works, told board members, the units “are working as hard as they can, but it’s like trying to cool a canvas tent; there’s no insulation, nothing to keep the cool air in the rooms.”

The biggest problem is the corridors, especially on the second floor, according to Cole.

“The heat rises and the hot air in the classrooms is being pushed into the corridors,” said Cole, adding “that 12- or 25-ton AC units could be rented in order to put out cool air, but it’s not going to be frigid by any means.”

If portable units are placed in the school that will necessitate some exterior doors being left open in order to vent the units outside, thus making the school less secure. That would also add to the school’s electric bill.

Board Chairman Brian Spencer asked if the hot air could be vented out windows in the school. Cole said “there’s no reason we can’t do it,” but added that not all classrooms have windows.

Superintendent Dr. Strader Blankenship added that students in the warmer classrooms could receive their instruction in the media center and cafeteria, which are the cooler parts of the school.

Previously, the temporary AC units were being shut off at night, since the machines’ five-gallon reservoirs fill up with water every four or so hours and must be emptied. However, the board decided that the AC units would be left on a night so as to keep the school cooler during the day.

While trying to keep the school cooler for students and staff is important, Cole said the focus of the work taking place is to make sure the new system is able to heat the school by November 1.

“I know we’re all kind of hoping that we get some cooler days here, but we don’t want to push it too hard for those cooler days. We still need some warm days between now and the first of November,” he said.

Work on the HVAC system is taking place from 4 p.m. until midnight in order not to interfere with the school day. Cole said crews clean up before leaving each night so as to make the school ready for class each morning.

Enrollment was also a topic of discussion during the meeting.

Blankenship told the board that first-day numbers showed 3,754 students enrolled, which is 111 less than expected.

“Actually, that’s a pretty good number,” he said. “Some years we’ve been 300 less than expected. Our numbers will grow as we get farther into the year.”

Blankenship reported that the only school with problems concerning class size is Fancy Gap Elementary School. Fancy Gap had 28 students registered for the second grade, but 29 showed up the first day. If another student enrolled, Blankenship said a second teacher would need to be hired. As for the third grade, 26 registered, but 28 were enrolled on the first day. If that number stays the same, an additional aide would be needed.

Since the number of students enrolled usually changes during the first few weeks of school, Blankenship suggested the board give the situation time to stabilize before making any decision about hiring an additional aide or teacher.

“Last year, we added a teacher, then the numbers dropped to the point where we didn’t need a teacher,” he said.