OUR OPINION: Students deserve ‘full air’“Bismarck Public Schools added air conditioning to more schools this summer,” reads a note on the Bismarck school district’s website. “If the board approves Phase 2, all buildings will eventually have full air.”
By: Tom Dennis, Grand Forks Herald
“Bismarck Public Schools added air conditioning to more schools this summer,” reads a note on the Bismarck school district’s website.
“If the board approves Phase 2, all buildings will eventually have full air.”
Can school officials in Grand Forks and other districts around the region say the same?
If they can, that’s terrific. If they can’t … well, then they should start retooling finances, renovations and other initiatives so that air conditioning becomes a priority, and “all buildings will eventually have full air.”
And it’s as simple as that.
Air conditioning ranks right up there with cars and airplanes as among the most important inventions of the 20th century. It has utterly transformed America, drawing millions of people to the Sun Belt and helping many millions more stay comfortable in spring, summer and fall nationwide.
In Grand Forks, the vast majority of stores, offices and vehicles surely are air-conditioned, as owners wouldn’t dream of asking people to work or customers to shop in sauna-like heat.
Why, then, do we ask sweltering teachers and students to perform?
“It is virtually impossible to teach or learn when you are dripping wet, sick to your stomach, have a headache and are just generally lethargic,” wrote a teacher in central Iowa to a newspaper there Monday.
“Those rooms can be in the high 90s, and the few windows open do nothing to cool things off. Each child in the room becomes a little ‘furnace’ as the day goes by; and when you get 25 of those, the temperature really skyrockets.”
Yes, it’s true that the Red River Valley schools see comparatively few unbearably hot days. But it’s also true that air conditioning makes buildings more comfortable until well into October in some years, and then the units come back on again in March.
So, it’s not just unbearable heat that air conditioning makes bearable. It’s also outside temps in the 80s and even high 70s, as homeowners and office workers around town would agree.
Retrofitting old buildings is expensive. But that’s what long-term budgets are for, as well as “air conditioning funds” that districts build up over time.
And the bottom line is this: Most parents and school-district officials likely work in air-conditioned environments. They know how important it is in their own lives. So, they should insist upon it for their children, who spend more than 10,000 hours in K-12 classrooms and deserve a modern standard of comfort while they’re there.
— Tom Dennis for the Herald