Battle High Construction Slows CPS From Installing AC in Junior Highs

Related Story

COLUMBIA- Part of the $120 million bond issue Columbia Public Schools received in 2010 will go to outfitting two junior high schools with air conditioning units.

Jefferson and West Jr. High Schools are expected to receive central air sometime in the next two years.  According to CPS, each school's unit is expected to cost between $3 to $4 million, and is a lengthy process.

"The hallways, the ceiling, the electrical loads that need to be considered, the fact that new windows will have to be installed. There's a lot of things that go into to completing the air conditioning project, it's not as simple as getting a wall unit and plugging it in," CPS Community Relations coordinator Michelle Baumstark said.

The district said it's taken so long to begin this project because a majority of the bond is being used to build the new high school in Columbia. $75 million of the $120 million is being used for construction, and that project temporarily maxed out the cities construction budget from the bonds.  Since the district hit that max, it has to start repaying the bonds in order to receive the rest of it for the air conditioning projects. 

The debt from the bond is being repaid through a levy on personal property taxes. Eighty cents of every $100 is used to repay the banks and financial entities who have invested in the bond.

The district said it plans to install air conditioning in one of the junior high schools this summer and the other school the summer of 2014.  Baumstark said the district hasn't decided yet, which of the two junior highs will get the A/C first.

This past summer five elementary schools in Columbia received new air conditioning units, and therefore did not have to send kids home early.

 So far this year, Jefferson and West have had eight early release days because of the lingering summer temperatures. Baumstark said the releases were met by mixed reactions from parents. However, she added the letting the kids out early was necessary.

"It's not just a matter of convenience, we need to keep our students healthy, and if they're too hot, they're getting sick, and they aren't learning," she said.