Hot public schools are in line to cool off
Global warming and academic calendar changes prompt the move to update heat data collection
The state Department of Education is spending $23,000 to make sure air conditioners are actually going to the hottest public schools first.
The DOE hired Energy Industries Inc. to update its decade-old ranking of school temperatures. The company will compile data for a heat scorecard with information from various weather instruments as well as elevation and solar zone maps, most of which were not available when the original list was done in 1996.
In line to cool off
With an average temperature of 87.15 degrees, Kihei Elementary and Lokelani Intermediate are first in line to get air conditioning.
The DOE is giving priority to these other schools when installing air conditioners:
» Pohakea Elementary
» Hickam Elementary
» Ewa Beach Elementary
» Ilima Intermediate
» Campbell High School
» Aikahi Elementary
» Kamaile Elementary
» Kaimiloa Elementary
The current ranking, which is limited to airport data by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, lists the average Hawaii school at 84.63 degrees between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the warmest months from August to September.
School temperatures range from 77 to 87 degrees, with most campuses reporting between 82 and 86 degrees, according to the list.
But the temperature ranking needs to be upgraded to consider possible weather changes from global warming and to ensure it accurately reflects conditions at each school, said Duane Kashiwai, public works administrator for the DOE. Also, demand for air conditioners is expected to rise as a shorter, seven-week summer break replaces the traditional 10-week recess starting this school year, he said.
"We hope the (new) list will be rather similar," Kashiwai said.
Air conditioners are being installed at Kihei Elementary and Lokelani Intermediate, which top the list at 87.15 degrees. Next in line are Pohakea, Hickam and Ewa Beach Elementary, followed by Ilima Intermediate and Campbell High School -- all at 86.6 degrees.
Brian Kealoha of Energy Industries Inc. said the company will gather information from "weather bugs," instruments that record humidity and wind speed at 33 isle schools, as well as statewide solar maps developed a few years ago to check the potential of sunlight energy in Hawaii.
Teachers have complained that students become sleepy from the summer heat and that it is harder for them to teach in hot days.
Of the state's 285 schools, just 21 are fully air-conditioned, though some have the units in main offices and some classrooms, according to the DOE. Besides air conditioning, the DOE is also looking at solar venting, insulation and fans to cool classrooms.
The department, which has estimated it would cost about $1 billion to install air conditioners in all schools, has gotten $2.5 million to reduce classroom heat in past years.
The DOE received $10 million for the work in the current fiscal year, and it is now asking lawmakers for $5 million for fiscal 2008, said Sanford Beppo, capital improvement planner in the Facilities Development Branch.
A proposal that would have given the department $40 million in the next two years to air-condition schools has stalled in the Legislature.