CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Parents at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School are frustrated because they say the indoor temperature in multiple classrooms at Long Creek Elementary School in Huntersville Tuesday morning was 80+ degrees because of a broken air conditioning system.
Parents complain that CMS just keeps putting band-aids over a three-year-long, recurring problem and not fixing it.
Queen City News pushed CMS to explain why they aren’t moving all students to cooler areas of Long Creek Elementary. They said they don’t always have enough space to do that, but they are doing so when and where they can.
Meanwhile, CMS says bringing in portable AC units is expensive, and switching to virtual learning is not ideal for academics.
Ashlee Carnes says her fourth grader came home from school last week and did not look like she had been inside all day.
“She was like, ‘Yeah, I can’t focus,’ and she has curly hair, so she came home, and I was like, ‘Why do you look like you’ve been outside all day?’ She was, you know, sitting in a hot classroom for seven hours,” said Carnes.
A parent at Long Creek sent QCN pictures of the thermostats in five different classrooms from around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, before students arrived at school, showing indoor temps in the classrooms were between 79 and 82 degrees.
“It’s unacceptable because they’re well aware, and we’ve kind of been getting the same answer for three years now,” said Carnes.
Carnes says every school year for the past three years, there has been some kind of issue with the air conditioning system at Long Creek.
“You wouldn’t deal with AC issues at your home for this long, so the expectation for that amount of children and staff is just ridiculous,” said Carnes.
This time around, CMS says the AC system’s controls are not properly recognizing signals to cool, so they’re working to fix things, although last week CMS’ Chief Operations Officer responded to a parent email saying the contractor diagnosed the problem, made repairs, and at the time, all units were working.
“No! It’s not, it’s not fixed. I just need some transparency, that ‘hey, we have parts on back order, we’re going to get some fans in the classrooms, we need to get some portable air conditioners in there’, don’t just sit there and ignore these children and these teachers,” said Candace Holloway, another parent at Long Creek.
Holloway says her daughter’s classroom has not been moved elsewhere despite the AC not working and students taking critical, beginning-of-the-year tests.
“Right now, I feel like they’re being distracted because they’re uncomfortable, I feel like the scores aren’t going to show correctly, and it’s just not fair to them. It’s not fair to the teachers, they’re already not being paid enough, and it’s not fair to the students to be uncomfortable,” said Holloway.
CMS says contractors have fixed the AC in the cafeteria, the stairwells, and half of the second floor at Long Creek Elementary.
The district says contractors are troubleshooting the issue with the controls on the AC system and hope to have everything resolved in the coming days.
QCN also checked on the number of HVAC vacancies currently in the district. CMS says its HVAC department is about 60% staffed.