Thursday, August 10, 2017

Brevard Schools Fast Tracks Fencing While Students Suffer With No Air Conditioning


Although Brevard County voters were told that voting for the half-cent sales tax would fix air conditioners and leaking roofs, some Brevard County Public School students endured a sweltering 103 degree heat index with no air conditioning on their first day back to school at Lockmar Elementary School in Palm Bay, Florida.


Lockmar Elementary has had problems with air conditioning break downs for years. In fact, the school was listed by BPS as having air conditioning problems in stories on both TV news channels WKMG 6 and News 13 when the sales tax was before the voters in 2014.

But two-and-a-half years after the sales surtax took effect that has so far generated over $95 million, students at Lockmar Elementary were still studying in hot classrooms on their first day of school.

The air conditioning was eventually repaired and working later in the day, bringing much needed relief to the students and teachers.

Despite ongoing issues with air conditioners that weren't working by the first day of school, the Brevard County School Board approved in June to spend $8.2 million on an accelerated basis from the half-cent sales surtax fund for fencing and other security measures by a 4 to 1 vote with Tina Descovich as the sole "no" vote.

"Unfortunately, schools throughout BPS have air-conditioning breakdowns nearly every week," said Brevard Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of District Communications, Matt Reed.

"That’s why AC repairs and renewal have been on an even faster track than security, and BPS has spent many times more surtax dollars on AC (as well as roofs, electrical, plumbing and computer infrastructure) since the start of the surtax. Security upgrades, also mandated by voters, are still a small percentage of total spending and work."

"Lockmar wasn’t one of them," Reed noted with a list of schools that did undergo major air conditioning renewal work during this summer:

Apollo – Air conditioning system improvements
Bayside High – Chiller replacements
DeLaura – Air conditioning system improvements; gym air conditioning (funded through capital)
Fairglen – Air conditioning system improvements and roof renewal
Hoover – Air conditioning system improvements
Jackson – Air conditioning system improvements; gym air conditioning (funded through capital)
Kennedy – Air conditioning system improvements; gym air conditioning (funding through capital)
Melbourne High – Air conditioning system improvements
Pinewood - Air conditioning system improvements
Sabal - Air conditioning system improvements
Saturn - Air conditioning system improvements
Sherwood - Air conditioning and fire alarm system improvements
Southwest - Air conditioning system improvements
Stone - Air conditioning system improvements and roof renewal
Turner - Air conditioning system improvements
West Melbourne - Air conditioning system improvements
Westside – Chiller replacement

Reed contends that, although security upgrades are due to be done by Spring Break 2018, the accelerated spending on security will not affect the timeline or spending on other surtax projects.

Image credit: Google