Air conditioning gets cold shoulder $9.4 million approved for school buildings

April 22, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Mount Airy Elementary School may have to sweat out another school year without air conditioning, unless officials find a way to raise the remaining $250,000 needed to install it.

The project was among several that did not get money for fiscal 1993-1994 from the county commissioners because of more pressing needs.

"We all recognize it's a limited pool of resources," said William Hyde, Carroll schools' assistant superintendent for administration.

The county did give the schools about $9.4 million, much of it in bond money, for capital improvements in the coming year. Of that, about $5 million will go toward replacing New Windsor Middle School, $457,360 is for planning a middle school on Oklahoma Road, and $500,000 is for additional renovation expenses at Winfield Elementary School.

"As a result of moving some other projects ahead, such as planning for Oklahoma Road Middle School, that pulled some dollars away from other projects," Mr. Hyde said.

Mount Airy Elementary's oldest section dates to 1935 and was once Mount Airy High School. Other sections were added in 1949, 1969 and 1987.

Not all county schools have air conditioning, but Mount Airy Elementary gets hotter than others because part of the building has a third story and little cross-ventilation, said Lester Surber, school facilities supervisor.

Officials wanted to install air conditioning during a 1987 renovation, but the state refused to pay for it, Mr. Surber said.

The system had put aside $285,000 during the past school year to add air conditioning, but bids came in higher than expected, and the project has been delayed until the system can find another $250,000.

Mr. Hyde said administrators haven't met to decide what to do.

"We've explored a number of options," he said. "We haven't come to any conclusions."

Mr. Hyde said options include looking for a cheaper way to air-condition the school, air-conditioning only part of the building and getting the money from another source.

In the meantime, Mount Airy students and teachers have to cope.

On hot days, the third-floor classes sometimes go outside or use the room of a class that is absent, perhaps on a field trip, said Ruth Riddle, assistant principal.

Often, the classes move to the media center or health rooms, which are air-conditioned, she said.

And, of course, they use ceiling fans and portable fans, turn out lights and minimize anything that could generate heat, she said.

"We make the best of it, just like we do at home. You still have to get the work done," she said.

Another project that didn't win over the commissioners this year is new furniture for the renovated Mechanicsville Elementary School, which is set to reopen in September 1994.

The system has made a practice of buying new furniture for a new or renovated school and circulating the used furniture to other schools that trade in their older desks, chairs and shelves.

But Mr. Hyde said Mechanicsville students will have to make do with the old furniture until money is available for new pieces.

At a previous meeting with school officials to review the capital request, Commissioner Julia W. Gouge told them new furniture wouldn't make a difference in the students' education.

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