Three Haverford Township Elementary Schools Lack Air Conditioning
Students at Lynnewood Elementary School appear to be suffering in the heat, but there have been no complaints about the lack of AC at Coopertown Elementary, according to PTO presidents.
During the recent heat waves, the classrooms inside the Lynnewood Elementary School have become oppressive and children leave at the end of the day looking tired and sweaty, said the co-president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.
Lynnewood Elementary School is one of three schools in the Haverford Township School District that lack air conditioning, along with Chatham Park Elementary School and Coopertown Elementary School, school district officials said.
There are currently no plans to add air conditioning to those schools, Rick Henderson, business manager for the Haverford Township School District, wrote in an e-mail in response to the Haverford-Havertown Patch's questions about air conditioning in the schools.
Henderson said while he did not know what it would cost to add air conditioning to the schools, there currently is no funding for such a project.
“Usually funding would come from a bond issue or in better times general fund monies,” Henderson wrote. “However, given the current economic and funding environment, AC in the remaining schools is not likely in the near future.”
The district’s newer buildings, Haverford High School, Manoa Elementary School and Chestnutwold Elementary School, are fully air conditioned, Assistant Superintendent Nancy Donahue said in a phone interview.
Haverford Middle School is partially air conditioned, Donahue said. It will be fully air conditioned when renovations to the school are completed, and if the renovations remain on schedule, they will be done in December, Donahue said.
The modulated classrooms, or trailers, that sit outside Lynnewood Elementary School are air-conditioned, but the old school building is not, and that is where the majority of the students at Lynnewood attend school, said Rene Wick, co-president of the Lynnewood Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), said in a phone interview.
Wick has a daughter in third grade at Lynnewood and two other children in middle school who previously attended Lynnewood.
When there are heat waves such as the recent one at the end of May or the high heat indexes expected for this week, there is no air circulating inside the main school building at Lynnewood and the fans which the PTO purchased for the school a few years ago do not seem to help, Wick said. The school building’s old casement windows do not open wide enough to let fresh air inside, Wick said.
“To me, it’s just oppressive in there,” Wick said.
To help students deal with the heat, the PTO and teachers will sometimes buy popsicles for the students and some teachers turn off the classroom lights in the afternoon or take students outside to sit in the shade and get some fresh air, Wick said.
But during a heat wave, Wick said she sees students leaving the school looking spent from the heat.
“The kids come out at the end of the day and they’re beat,” Wick said. “They’re tired, they’re sweaty.”
The lack of air conditioning might also exacerbate the symptoms of students who suffer from allergies, which Wick said was the case with one of her older children. Wick said her daughter’s allergy symptoms have been less severe this year at the middle school, which is partially air conditioned, compared to last year when she was at Lynnewood.
Wick said complaints from parents are generally limited to “It’s hot,” but if there is not a reprieve from the heat after a few days she starts to hear more concern from parents.
Two years ago, during a heat wave that lasted a week, “Parents were coming to pick up their kids from school,” before the day ended, because it was so hot, Wick said. Wick said it was not the whole school, but about a dozen parents took their children home early.
Meanwhile, at Coopertown Elementary School, the lack of air conditioning has not prompted any recent complaints to the Coopertown Parent Teacher Organization.
“We really haven’t received any complaints regarding lack of A/C in our school,” said Christina Posencheg, co-president of the Coopertown PTO wrote in an e-mail to Patch. “The PTO bought large stand-up fans for each classroom last year, and as far as I know they are doing the trick.”
Henderson said he was not aware of any complaints about the lack of air conditioning at Lynnewood, Chatham Park and Coopertown elementary schools, “but I'm sure there are some on abnormally hot days.”
The last day of school for students is June 17, with the exception of the high school, which gets out earlier, Henderson said.
Until summer vacation starts, a spokesman for the American Red Cross has a few tips on how students and teachers can keep cool in schools without air conditioning.
“Schools should be encouraging all children to take breaks to get water,” Dave Schrader, director of communications for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, said in a phone interview to Patch.
Teachers and students should drink plenty of water and water only, Schrader said. Soda, juice and caffeinated drinks should be avoided, he added. “They dehydrate you,” Schrader said.
Fans are not necessarily helpful, Schrader said.
“Fans inside a hot room are just recirculating hot air,” Schrader said. It only really helps if fans are circulating cool air or being used to push cool air into a hot area, such as, using a fan to push cool air from an air conditioned library to a hot classroom, Schrader said.
On hot days, people should wear light clothing, with white and yellow being the best colors, and avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., if possible, Schrader said.