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Some Long Beach students struggling through latest heat wave without air conditioning


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    LONG BEACH, California (KCAL, KCBS) — As sweltering heat continues to bake the Southland, some students have been forced to sit through class without any relief in Long Beach, due to aging campuses and lack of air conditioning.

On Tuesday, temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees, creating uncomfortable classroom conditions for dozens of students.

Some parents, concerned with the wellbeing of their children have addressed these issues with Long Beach Unified School District.

“Sometimes she’ll tell me she gets a headache at lunch or she doesn’t feel good,” said Rachee Tovias, the mother of a Patrick Henry Elementary School student, who has resorted to taking her daughter out of school for lunch so they can eat together inside of their air conditioned car. “I don’t want to take her out of school, but I can take her out just for a short time so she doesn’t miss any of the education part.”

Her daughter attends Patrick Henry Elementary School, one of the 20% of LBUSD campuses that still doesn’t have air conditioning in every classroom.

Despite Long Beach voters agreeing on a $1.5 billion bond to improve technology, safety and air conditioning on all campuses back in 2016, Patrick Henry Elementary is part of the 20% of LBUSD schools without air conditioning in every classroom.

“It’s upsetting that we had an original date that was closer to get the air conditioner installed, and it got rescheduled and the date got pushed out further,” Tovias said.

The district issued a statement on heat mitigation measures being taken by the district as they work to complete the promise six years in the making. They highlighted the provision of additional fans as needed, opening doors and windows in the early morning to circulate air and providing accessibility to air-conditioned spaces on campus like the library or auditorium.

“All of our schools will have air conditioning within the next eight years,” the district said in a statement issued to CBS. “The installation of air conditioning districtwide is, by necessity, a multi-year project due to various factors including available labor, materials and the fact that school bond funds are issued in increments (we wouldn’t have the funds or capacity to complete all projects at once). We sometimes must relocate hundreds of students to another campus while air conditioning is installed. The installation of air conditioning usually requires significant upgrades to building infrastructure first, including the electrical systems. Unfortunately, older schools typically do not have the electrical capacity to simply plug in air conditioning.”

Patrick Henry Elementary is one of the 23 remaining campuses slated to receive air conditioning by 2030.

“The Henry project originally was scheduled to start in summer 2023 but was pushed back to 2027 due to additional project-related needs at the school and rising construction costs across the industry. The school district cannot issue all of its bonds at once but must do so in increments, which means that we cannot complete all of the projects at the same time,” the district said.

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