SEPT 12:  Fan Drives at Campbell High School and the Pearl City Shopping Center

Saturday, September 12, 2015
On Saturday Campbell High School and Pearl City High School are holding fan drives to receive donations from the public. The Campbell event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the “O” building parking lot. The Pearl City event is scheduled at the Pearl City Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

DOE providing some relief as temperatures soar

http://www.kitv.com/news/DOE-providing-some-relief-as-temperatures-soar/35213950

HONOLULU —As Hawaii’s record hot summer continues the Department of Education is taking steps to provide some measure of relief to students and teachers.

Recently, the statewide school system purchased 145 portable AC units by utilizing the Western State Contracting Price list, which creates multi-state contracts to achieve the cost-effective and speedy acquisition of merchandise. Meanwhile, a notice issued Friday by DOE shows the department wants to purchase 1,000 more portable units while bypassing normal procurement procedures, but spokesman Brent Suyama says the actual number is closer to 250.

“It’s a procedural thing,” said Suyama. “If we estimate too low we’d have to go through that whole process of posting all over again. By posting a number like a thousand it gives us much more flexibility in case we need to go as far as a thousand.”

For schools that have made it on the DOE’s AC priority list, any relief is welcomed. At James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, which is third on the list, classroom temperatures hover in the 90’s and can even reach triple digits.

“You walk in classrooms and you’ll see the sweat basically going down the backs of necks of students and for what they’re doing, I give them a ton of credit,” said Campbell Vice Principal Shayne Greenland.

Many of Campbell’s 149 classrooms don’t have air conditioning and on Thursday KITV4 took a first-hand look. A classroom shared by teachers Tracie Koide and Jean Tokuhama stood at 94 degrees. Although electric fans and cold water helps alleviate some of the heat, it also interferes with learning.

“The noise from the fans is a distraction,” said Koide. “We try to get them water as quick as possible … but you don’t know if that’s when they would’ve had that aha moment.”


Teacher Tracie Koide holds up a thermometer showing the temperature in her classroom at 94 degrees.

Fourteen of Campbell’s portable classrooms don’t have AC, and many of those feel even hotter. Mike Wooten’s P-1 classroom registered a temperature of 94 degrees Thursday, and he’s seen the temperature reach 100. Wooten says he has a new appreciation for studies that show student achievement suffers when temperatures rise above 80 degrees.


“They just wilt, they melt in that temperature,” Wooten said of his students. “It becomes extremely hard to motivate them or to get them to do any type of activity. You can tell that the information that you’re giving them isn’t really getting through. It just has wide-ranging effects on the quality of their education.”

Thanks to a crowd-funding drive by a group of private school students calling themselves Fahrenheit 73, Wooten’s classroom is scheduled to receive a photovoltaic AC unit in the coming weeks that won’t connect to the electrical grid. It took the teacher more than two-and-a-half years to receive approval from the DOE for the installation.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just who has power and what their interests are,” said Wooten. “I think a lot of our legislators have their kids in private schools, and if they were all in 100-degree classrooms the way public school kids are, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

Even if a school receives an AC, officials have to make sure the wiring can handle the increased load.

“We’re doing things like electrical upgrades to be able to have the capacity,” said Suyama. “You have more computers, you have tablets, you have laptops and you want to add AC, so all those things require a lot more electrical generation.”

Electrical upgrades are underway at 35 public schools and DOE completed 17 AC projects this summer. The department has $8 million dollars to fix or replace existing AC’s, and another $31 million has been set aside by state lawmakers for new projects over the past five fiscal years. 

DOE’s capital improvement budget for the current fiscal year is $291.9 million, but Suyama says a majority of those funds are already spoken for.

“Whether it’s pipes or electrical systems, those are key to make sure our schools are running,” he said.

On Saturday Campbell High School and Pearl City High School are holding fan drives to receive donations from the public. The Campbell event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the “O” building parking lot. The Pearl City event is scheduled at the Pearl City Shopping Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.