HSTA AC Plan Update
Our active involvement in issues such as standardized testing and school funding helps improve our students’ lives, public education, and our profession.
Since I started as president, not a day has gone by that HSTA has not been out fighting for our members.
As we heard on our listening tour, teachers are confronted with many issues. However, some of those issues that we are faced with have been more visible and in the news, such as the Ethics Commission’s advisory opinion on student travel, and air conditioning.
The heat in our classrooms is putting the health and safety of our members and students in jeopardy. HSTA knew there was no time to wait and see whether our legislators could fund the Department of Education’s $1.7 billion plan. Instead, HSTA came up with our own plan. We shared this with you in an email on September 1, and immediately set out to meet with decision-makers.
This problem has festered for decades, but in the last two months we have made more progress in moving towards a plan to cool our hot classrooms than anyone has made in the past.
Since we started talking with the Department of Education, their approach has been to treat overheated classrooms like a crisis. As a result:
The DOE started the survey of classrooms that we asked for.
The DOE expedited purchase of 1,000 portable air conditioning units to provide immediate relief to some of our hottest classrooms.
Read: Hawaii schools get more air conditioners in record hot year
The DOE asked Governor Ige to divert $20 million for heat abatement measures.
The DOE started to explore some of our on-the-grid and off-the grid solutions and alternatives.
Read: Solar, off-grid air conditioning provides self-contained alternatives
See: Ka Hei Power Hybrid Approach - 16 minutes in
In some situations, HSTA is suggesting that the DOE use solar air conditioning instead. The DOE is already experimenting with an on-the-grid air conditioning system at Waianae High and I spoke with Keleiopuu Elementary School to find out more about the alternative solutions that they are considering for their school.
In a Board of Education meeting last month, BOE members encouraged HSTA to continue leading our talks with the DOE and the community to work toward solutions we have proposed in our plan. A copy of our plan is available on line, or listen to my interview on Hawaii Public Radio HERE>>>
Read: Students need relief now from hot classrooms
Read: Fund to cool classrooms gets $25,000 boost
We’ve made great steps forward and we’re not stopping here. This month, we set up a meeting with the DOE, solar companies, businesses, and community leaders to come up with long term solutions to deal with our changing climate and environmental shifts.
HSTA’s vision is: United in the pursuit of excellence for Hawaii’s public schools. We are a union made up of teachers who join together to make our voices heard on issues that affect all of us and the students we teach. Our teaching conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
I want to thank all the members who came out to share their experiences with air conditioning and other important issues during the listening tour and those who have emailed me. Most of all, thanks for all you do every day in your classrooms.
Our next Association meetings for all BU 05 members are scheduled for October 12-16, 2015. A schedule and agendas for each island can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2015HSTAInstituteDay.
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