Hillsborough County Schools off to a hot start

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County School students went back to school on Thursday. Some of them came home in a sweat.

Parents from Durant High School, Randall Middle School and Plant High School contacted News Channel 8 to complain the air conditioning at their students’ schools is not working.

“It’s not just the students. It’s the teachers too. I mean they are having to work in these environments and that’s not safe for them, it’s not safe for the students,” said Christine Coram.

Her son attends Randall Middle School. They left parent night early this week because the AC was not working.

“It was way too hot and I was feeling ill,” said Corman.

Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins says he is aware of the problems and had technicians out at several schools to make repairs.

“We’re concerned too. All of our crews are out and responding to any particular issues that come in today. We know everyone is coming back, all of the bodies are filling the classrooms and we are definitely recognizing on a 93 degree day, it’s going to be hot,” said Eakins.

Replacing air conditioning systems at schools is not cheap.

Hillsborough County says on average, it costs $3 million to replace an elementary school, $5 million for a middle school and $7-12 million for a high school.

Eakins says many of the AC systems are aging.

“They are all aging at the same time and all of their AC units become aged at the same pace,” said Eakins.

At the same time, state construction and maintenance funds have been reduced for Hillsborough County Schools, declining from $164 million from 2002 to 2009 to $19 million from 2009 to 2016.

Still, Eakins said he knows air conditioning is a priority for Florida schools and work is being done to maintain the systems.

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