Cool kids at middle school?

Re-1 looks at possible air conditioning solution

Keywords: Poll question,

When school resumes in a little more than three weeks, Cortez Middle School will remain without a working conditioner, the Montezuma-Cortez School Board Re-1 was informed during its Tuesday meeting.

Middle school principal Jamie Haukeness told the board that last May a few students became ill after being overwhelmed by the high temperatures with no air conditioning in the school.

He said his concern was that the problem still existed, with the start of school only three weeks away.

Superintendent Alex Carter said even if the board or district were to act immediately it would take more than three weeks for the air conditioning unit to be installed, and the board decided to discuss options with the district’s maintenance department at the Aug. 21 board meeting.

Carter said installing an air conditioner would be costly, but added what is paramount is having an environment that is conducive to learning for the 700 students who will be attending the middle school beginning Aug. 27.

Former district chief of operations director Michael Canzona, who attended the board meeting for a different item, said when temperatures outside reach 90 degrees or above, it could exceed 100 degrees inside.

Carter mentioned having window air conditioners inside the classrooms, though he conceded that would probably cost just as much as having a new unit installed.

Haukeness said Re-1 does not have much time to fix the problem.

“My concern is we are going to have kids in three weeks,” he said.

Chief Financial Officer Melissa Bruner, who informed Carter of the situation earlier in the week, said it needs to see if the district can get some answers from its maintenance department.

“Three weeks and we have kids showing up,” Carter said. “It’s a critical issue for the middle school.”

Carter said a new air conditioner unit for the middle school would cost between $55,000 to $65,000 and the funds would come out of capital reserves.

The superintendent said the middle school is way down on the district’s list of priorities when it comes to replacing buildings.

He said while the cost is huge, the district needs to think about the students and staff who will be at the school during the first two months of the school year.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com