CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Campbell High School teacher Corey Rosenlee conducts classes with his lights off because of the heat.
Campbell High to rally for relief from the heat
Students, staff, school band plan to march on Capitol
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A push to get Campbell High School air-conditioned is heating up.
About 400 students and staff from the Ewa school plan to march at the state Capitol tomorrow to ask lawmakers to set aside money for air conditioners. They are even bringing the school band.
The rally comes in the wake of a new study of hot schools by the state Department of Education that had Campbell High drop from seventh place to No. 70 in an air-conditioning priority list.
Educators say the heat, as well as airplanes that take off from runways nearby, make it hard to teach and learn.
"A lot of people can't concentrate," said Campbell High freshman John Olandy.
The Department of Education is giving priority to these 10 schools when installing air conditioners. The maximum recorded temperature is listed next to schools.*
1. Lokelani Intermediate, 96.7 degrees
2. Barbers Point Elementary, 95.6 degrees
2. Kihei Elementary, 96.5 degrees
4. Kaiulani Elementary, 93.6 degrees
4. Kalakaua Middle, 93.6 degrees
4. Kalihi-Kai Elementary, 93.6 degrees
4. Likelike Elementary, 93.6 degrees
4. Moanalua Elementary, 93.6 degrees
4. Salt Lake Elementary, 93.6 degrees
10.Kaunakakai Elementary, 94.4 degrees
* Humidity and other data are also used to determine a school's ranking.
Source: State Department of Education
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ian Ponteras sits in Corey Rosenlee's class at Campbell High School on the Ewa Plain. The rooms need to be air-conditioned because of the heat.
The classrooms are too hot, the roar of airplanes too distracting, so about 400 students and teachers at Campbell High School will get away from it all on a field trip tomorrow.
But you won't find them cooling off at the water park down the highway, at the beach or in a museum.
They will be marching at the state Capitol, holding signs and knocking on the doors of lawmakers in a plea for air conditioners.
"One hundred degrees is a sauna, not a classroom," Corey Rosenlee, a Campbell High social studies teacher, said Friday during first period. He keeps weather measurements of the school in a folder to prove he is not lying about the high temperature.
It is only 9:15 a.m., but the doors and windows to Rosenlee's class already are wide open, the lights turned off to minimize heat.
"If you left a child in a car at 100 degrees, they would arrest people," he added.
Campbell High, built nearly half a century ago on the flat, dry Ewa Plain and now under the glide path to runways at Honolulu Airport and Hickam Air Force Base, is by no means alone in its pursuit of cooler, quieter rooms. Only 21 of Hawaii's 257 public schools, excluding charters, are fully air-conditioned. But its students and staff, who have complained for years to education officials about instruction-stopping jet turbine noise and uniform-stripping sweat, do have a legitimate reason to take their fight to higher levels of government this time.
Until November a Department of Education heat scorecard ranked the campus seventh among schools in line to get air conditioners. However, Campbell High dropped to No. 70 after officials updated the list by adding humidity and analyzing how long schools remain at peak temperatures before heat begins to subside.
The Education Department paid Energy Industries Inc. $23,000 to revise the list with information from various weather tools as well as elevation and solar zone maps, most of which were not available when the original roster was done in 1996.
"We tried to have the experts call it objectively. Our role was to try to maintain objectivity," Schools Assistant Superintendent Randy Moore said, noting the review was done to ensure the hottest schools would get relief first. However, he said, "there's still a few people who are not satisfied."
That includes the state Board of Education, which was skeptical of how schools got shifted around in the new list.
"As far as I'm concerned, the thing is flawed," said Chairwoman Donna Ikeda.
Moore acknowledged the revised ranking fails to consider noise and dust, items that he said should be looked at when prioritizing installation of air conditioners. The issue will be debated at future board meetings.
At Campbell High, commercial and military aircraft constantly zoom by, forcing teachers to take breaks while lecturing. To combat the heat, students wipe their foreheads with wet cloths, roll up their T-shirts and hassle to sit closer to fans that some teachers bring to class, Rosenlee said.
"The heat, the airplanes, it just gets a little frustrating," said freshman Raina Rentiquiano, who will join students today in making posters for the Capitol rally. "It's hard to concentrate when you are like taking a test, and after lunch everyone is just complaining of how it's so hot and sweaty."
For now the Education Department is launching a pilot project to check whether other measures -- painting ceilings white, bringing in more fans, window shades and building roof vents to boost air flow -- would make classrooms at least comfortable enough for teaching and learning. The program will start with some classrooms at Kahuku High and Intermediate School, as well as Ewa Beach Elementary, and more campuses could follow, including Campbell High, Moore said.
"Telling everyone, 'Sit tight, in 100 years we will get to you,' is probably not acceptable," Moore said about the long air-conditioning wait list. "And environmentally, in this day and age, it doesn't make any sense, either."
The Legislature has approved $8 million for heat and noise reduction projects for the current and next fiscal years, enough money to air-condition a high school or two elementary schools, Moore said. Campbell High is pushing for a proposal calling for $12 million for air conditioners at the school.
State Sen. Will Espero, who introduced Senate Bill 150 last year, said the measure is stalled, but the 2008 session is only halfway done.
"It's not dead but it's not moving," Espero (D, Ewa-Honouliuli-Ewa Beach) said about his bill. "But things are always possible until the very end."