Sweltering schools: Lawmaker wants every Ohio school air-conditioned


The heat forced Columbus City School students to stay home Wednesday.

Nearly 40 percent of Columbus school buildings don't have air-conditioning.

The district says it made the decision to stay closed for the safety of students.

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But some parents say its made for a challenging learning environment. Angie Meeker's 11-year-old daughter attends the Columbus Gifted Academy.

"By the time they get out of school, they're just worn out. They're just kind of beat down by that hot weather. She'll get in the car and I'll say, 'How was it?' And she just says, 'it was hot!'"

And so far, it's made for a stumbling start to the school year.

"We've been in school for about a week and a half. And I think four of those days now we've been released early, and then today school was just canceled."

She supports the decisions Columbus City Schools has made, but worries it's putting Columbus students at an educational disadvantage.

"You look around central Ohio, and the suburban school districts...they don't have these issues. Because they have the money to afford air conditioning in their buildings."

10TV checked with more than a dozen local school districts. Most, including Westerville, Gahanna, Worthington, Olentangy, Delaware, Reynoldsburg, Newark, New Albany, Hilliard and Dublin, say all of their schools are air-conditioned.

Forty-three Columbus City Schools - about a third of all its schools - are not air-conditioned. Lancaster City Schools says none of its secondary schools have air. And South-Western City Schools have five schools that are only partially air-conditioned.

One Ohio lawmaker says it's a problem he wants the state to address.

"It's disrupting the learning of students, having early dismissals or schools shut down. It's absolutely unacceptable," said Miamisburg Republican Niraj Antani.

He sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Education, saying "every school in Ohio should be air-conditioned," and asking for a cost estimate to make that happen.

"This is about making sure we have 21st-century school buildings for our students. If they're going to compete in a 21st-century economy, we need to give them 21st-century school buildings. It's 2018. It's absolutely unacceptable for students to have to study in the sweltering heat."

Angie agrees it's time for solutions.

"At what point do we stop having this surface conversation of should the schools be let out or shouldn't they be let out, and start saying, how can we get air conditioning in our schools? I told my husband we are a 'smart city.' We are about to figure out how to shoot people to Chicago in a Hyperloop without exploding them. But we can't figure out how to get air conditioning in 30 or 40 schools?"

Columbus City Schools says as a result of a bond package passed by voters in 2016, five, possibly six schools will undergo repairs and retrofitting that will allow them to be air-conditioned later this school year.