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Parents frustrated over lack of air conditioning in Pittsburgh Public Schools

Parents frustrated over lack of A/C in Pittsburgh Public Schools
Parents frustrated over lack of A/C in Pittsburgh Public Schools 03:26

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The heat will be on again tomorrow, and it'll be high enough that students at dozens of Pittsburgh Public Schools will be learning from home instead of their classrooms.

It's because so many of these schools don't have air conditioning. Parents are getting tired of it.

Pittsburgh Allderdice is one of the 39 facilities that went remote. These problems aren't new to the district, but parents don't care; they want to know when the problem will be solved.

"What it comes down to when figuring the budget, putting air conditioning should be at the top of the list. Think of our kids first," Ebony Clemons wrote.

Nina Esposito-Visgitis is the former longtime president of the Pittsburgh Teacher's Union and worked in the district for 43 years.

"I know it's expensive, but they have to do something bold. Kids can't learn and teachers can't teach," Esposito-Visgitis said.

She points out that some of the roughly 18,500 students don't have air conditioning at home either, and there's a concern about kids being at their computers at home learning.

"Research has shown remote learning is not as effective as in-person learning."

School board president Gene Walker admits there's a problem.

"There is definitely a financial constraint to put in air conditioning to every one of our buildings," Walker said.

Walker pointed out the district hired a consultant for $250,000. They're coming up with a plan to make the district more efficient.

Borrasso: It's 2024. Do you think it's acceptable that 30-some buildings don't have air conditioning, and that students are basically losing out, according to some parents and teachers, with remote learning?

Walker: I don't. I think any time learning is disruptive is a failure on our part. Not necessarily a failure today, but a failure of planning over time. My hope is that, sometime in the near future, we don't have to do this again because our schools will be adequately equipped to take care of our kids and facilitate the type of learning they deserve.

The school board president says the district could put air conditioning in all the buildings, but he also says some of them are so old, it would cost too much money.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spokesperson Ebony Pugh told KDKA-TV on Tuesday night that the district estimates the cost to install adequate air conditioning in 37 buildings would be between $443 million and $552 million.

The district also says it's in the process of installing A/C at five buildings right now. Those are expected to be done by next year.

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