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When Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged on April 25 to install air conditioners in every public school classroom by 2022 in a $28.75 million project, many teachers rejoiced but perhaps none more than Betty Hargraves.
Hargraves, a math teacher at IS 49 on Staten Island, has taught for 13 years, mostly in one room. Her description of that room on the third floor of the school could make anyone break out in a sweat.
“The room is on the top floor,” she said. “Heat rises, plus we get the heat from the tarred roof. The room is facing a hill filled with trees so we get no breeze. We can’t open the doors for safety reasons. And the sun shines down on us, so we keep the shades pulled down.”
She said she’s measured temperatures of up to 98 degrees in her classroom.
“My students melt,” Hargraves said. “I make sure they have water bottles and keep rehydrating. And I keep the lights off.”
The city estimates that about 11,500 classrooms — fully a quarter of all classrooms — do not have air conditioners. The money set aside in the mayor’s executive budget will pay for air conditioning to be installed in more than 2,000 classrooms in the first year of the program, beginning this summer, according to city officials. Summer school sites will be first in line.
“The students and our members should not have to suffer in hot classes,” said Mulgrew. “I applaud the mayor for dedicating funding to this project and setting a deadline for the city to get the work done in every classroom.”
The city is giving itself five years to complete the job. The School Construction Authority is providing $50 million for electrical upgrades, a necessity to support the installation of the units in older buildings.
That’s a real concern for Jenae Canty, an English as a New Language teacher at PS 52 in Jamaica, Queens. Her school building is so old, she said, “it’s like a monument.” The majority of classes do not have air-conditioning units, she said.
Canty brings in three of her own fans to cool off her classroom. “The students keep water bottles at their desks,” she said. “You don’t want anyone to get overheated. That’s a real danger with young children who run around outside.”
What is your favorite movie about a teacher?
Dead Poets Society
Stand and Deliver
Mr. Holland's Opus
Total votes: 420