The William S. Hart Union High School District approved a fee proposal on Thursday of approximately $267,950 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning analysis to be completed for its seven high schools, which would provide information regarding the total cost of adding air-conditioning to the gymnasiums.
“For several years staff discussed the lack of air conditioning in the district’s high school gymnasiums, as well as from administrators and community members,” said Michael Otavka, director of facilities, planning and construction for the district.
According to Otavka, air conditioning was not an amenity initially included in any of the district’s high school gymnasiums. Teams practice and use their respective gyms during the summer and early fall without air conditioning, but inside temperatures can reach up to 85 degrees or higher.
“Schools adhere to safety protocols during these periods, including using large hyper-powered fans and scheduling practices early before the hottest part of the day,” Otavka said during a governing board meeting.
With teams relying on the gymnasiums for practice space, the analysis will provide the district with the “true cost” of adding air conditioning including possible structural building modifications and the extent the electrical infrastructure might be upsized at each campus.
In addition, district staff noted that adding air conditioning to the district’s seven gyms will also increase utility costs and the ongoing utility costs may be the most significant component of adding air conditioning to the gyms.
John Minkus, president of the Hart District Teachers Association, shared his thoughts with the governing board regarding the item during the meeting. Minkus said he was not against putting air conditioning in the gyms, but he suggested the district ensure classroom air conditioning ran properly before spending a lot of money.
Linda Storli, who represents trustee area No. 1, said she understood Minkus’ sentiments, but added that the gyms are used for various purposes including teaching, programs or announcements.
“I would also like all the air conditioning and heating to work in all of the other classrooms because it’s awful when it doesn’t,” she said. “But I think this is a worthy thing to do.”
She also expressed she was “taken aback” by the amount of money the district would need to pay to learn how much money it would need to tackle the endeavor of adding HVAC systems to its seven gyms.
“All we’ve had up to until now were guesses,” Otavka said. “This will give us some pretty, concrete information about what this is going to cost. This is the kind of information you need to get better information about that.”
The governing board voted 5-0 to approve the HVAC analysis by Architecture for Education for approximately $267,950, which is scheduled to be completed by May.