Hot classrooms not ideal learning environment for Riverside High School

Riverside High School dismissed early Wednesday because of high temperatures. School officials say the air condition units were not operating properly. (WCHS/WVAH)

Riverside High School dismissed early Wednesday because of high temperatures in the classroom after school officials said the air condition units were not operating properly.

Students and even staff said having the classrooms as hot as they have been makes it unbearable for learning and testing.

"It's like humid," Alanica Smith, 11th grader at Riverside, said. "It's like really hot."

Riverside Principal Jane Kennedy said it's frustrating because she just wants the students to learn.

"In the last two days they've gone down even more, " Kennedy said. "One unit went down very quickly and little by little all the other units have gone down as well."

Kennedy said temperatures in the classrooms reached into the high 70s and mid-80s.

"Our hands keep getting stuck to our papers and our pencils," Desiree Kilgore, ninth grader, said. "We don't have any grip really. It's bad."

Some parents are frustrated and said this issue should be addressed.

Kennedy said she knows these temperatures make it hard for students to learn in.

"They just want to take a nap, and it's not a good learning environment at all," Kennedy said.

A Kanawha County Schools spokesperson said that the air conditioning units are running, but not at 100 percent. A contractor is working on the issue and said it will not be an overnight repair.

On May 1, Eyewitness News spoke with Kanawha County School Maintenance Executive Director Terry Hollandsworth. He explained the Riverside units are old and costly to replace.

"They're 19 years old not and the useful life of a rooftop unit is 15 years and they are $750,00 a piece to replace," Hollandsworth said.

A school board spokesperson said there are about 10 schools with AC issues in one or more classrooms. The principals in many of the schools are able to relocate students into air conditioned classrooms but for schools like Ben Franklin and Riverside, they have to have outside contractors fix the issues.

The school board says they will assess the Riverside High School situation Wednesday night and first thing Thursday.

The board president said the county hopes to address this AC issue during the fall school excess levy vote.

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