Clark County College District campuses expertise air con outages

September 8, 2022   |   by Noah Franklin

When Alia Aguigui learned her daughter’s first-grade classroom had no air conditioning for a couple of days last month, she decided to visit the Dickens Elementary School classroom to see how hot it really was.

But Aguigui said she wasn’t allowed inside the building. She was also chagrined to find that the North Las Vegas school didn’t move students in affected classrooms to a cooler location. And when she asked if her daughter could do schoolwork from home until the issue was resolved, she was told there’s no plan in place for that.

“I would think this would be kind of an emergency,” Aguigui told the Review-Journal last month.

Students and employees shouldn’t have to suffer in hot, windowless classrooms, she said. “It’s really horrendous that we think it’s OK for kids to sit in that heat.”

About two dozen Clark County School District campuses experienced entire site air conditioning outages during the first four days of school alone and more likely have been affected since then.

In total, 24 campuses of more than 360 in the district submitted a work order between Aug. 8, the first day of school, and Aug. 11, according to data obtained by the Review-Journal through a public records request.

Several schools — including Sunrise Acres Elementary School, Keller Elementary School, West Prep and Shadow Ridge High School — submitted a work order on multiple days that week, records show.

The tally of schools doesn’t include those that experienced air conditioning outages affecting just some classrooms or a portion of a building. And the records don’t include how long it took for the issue to be resolved.

An outage can trigger a decision, in some cases, to move students to a cooler area of ​​the building or even offsite temporarily to another campus.

Preventive maintenance

Aguigui said it felt like the school district failed by waiting for air conditioning units to malfunction instead of keeping up on maintenance.

The district said in a statement last month that its facilities staff performs ongoing preventative maintenance.

“This proactive work is critical and often helps identify major issues before they impact staff and students in the classroom,” the district said. “Despite these steps, systems occasionally experience problems.”

District staff work to address equipment and operational issues as quickly as possible, according to the statement.

“When problems are encountered, staff monitor temperatures inside buildings according to established protocols to ensure student and staff safety,” the district said. “We appreciate the understanding of students, staff, and families as our dedicated staff does all they can to ensure that maintenance issues do not impact the instructional day.”

The air conditioning outages during the first week of school came as high temperatures ranged from the mid-90s to low-100s across the Las Vegas Valley.

Now, it’s even hotter. An excessive heat warning is in effect until 8 pm Thursday, with Wednesday’s forecast high at 108 degrees.

Request information

The Review-Journal requested information Aug. 10 from the school district about how many campuses and which ones experienced air conditioning outages during the first days of school.

The district responded with a statement Aug. 11 but provided no list of schools. After a few follow-up inquiries, the district sent the request through the public records process on Aug. 18 and the Review-Journal received records back Tuesday.

The Review-Journal reached out Tuesday afternoon to a handful of school principals at campuses affected by outages on the first week of school seeking information, but hadn’t received responses by Wednesday afternoon.

Outages in past years

Air conditioning issues have occurred for years across the school district, including during the first month of school.

On the first day of school in 2021, Superintendent Jesus Jara told reporters that a handful of air conditioning issues forced some students to be moved to cooler areas.

And in August 2019, for example, part of Durango High School experienced an air conditioning outage when an excessive heat warning was in effect and the high temperature was expected to hit 110 degrees.

The same week, Mack Middle School also experienced air conditioning issues, and students were temporarily relocated to Chaparral High School.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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