- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

MAUI, Hawaii (AP) - More than 400 portable air-conditioning units have been installed in Hawaii public schools this year as a response to public complaints about sweltering classrooms.

Department of Education officials say the units were installed in the “hottest classrooms” across the state for a total cost of $147,000. The department estimates installing air conditioning at all DOE schools would cost $1.7 billion, The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/1On2f9c).

“The principals did appreciate the state DOE’s effort with reducing temperatures in classrooms, especially in their hottest classrooms,” said Alvin Shima, complex area superintendent for the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex, in an email. “However, the units provided did not lower temperatures in those classrooms as much as anticipated.”

The units may not be as efficient as some would like, but Shima said installing them did help put a stop to the complaints.

The DOE faced criticism this summer from concerned parents and other members of the public, as many schools were without air conditioning during days when temperatures reached record highs. Many classrooms had surpassed 90 degrees.

In addition to providing the air conditioning units, the agency has been releasing a heat abatement status report publicly since outcry broke out over the hot classrooms. The report shows that schools across the state have millions of dollars to support projects intended to help keep classrooms cool.

Department of Education spokesman Brent Suyama said the report is meant to ensure people are informed of the progress being made and to show “we are not letting this situation disappear because the temperatures are starting to go down.”

“It’s important to continue to get projects in place,” he said.

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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