Teachers and district officials disagree on appropriate school temperature

Kelly Cordingley, Editor in Chief

During the transition from fall to winter, the temperature not only varies outside, but in the building as well.
The temperature during the day outside can be a chilly 40 degrees and then fall to a frigid 10 degrees at night. Changes like that will affect the temperature inside the school as well.
With the weather changes during the winter months, office secretary Heidi Wood said she expects a multitude of calls to the office from teachers reporting cold temperatures in their room.
“This time of year is hard,“ Wood said. “We don’t know if it will be hot or cold in the school.”
Dave Hill, Executive Director of Facilities and Operations, said the Blue Valley District strives to keep the temperature between 73 and 75 degrees during the warmer months and between 68 and 71 degrees during the colder months.
“There might be some differences, but we strive for that 3 degree difference,” Hill said. “We try to save energy and thus money. We’ve been able to save money, but I don’t think we have created discomfort.”
Hill said for every degree the District decides to lower the temperature in the winter, they save an average of $114,000 per year.
BV has more than fifty heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems on its roofs. With that many systems, Hill said it is difficult for maintenance crews to keep up.
“Since its opening, Blue Valley has almost
quadrupled in size,” Hill said. “With each new addition came new equipment, making BV very unique.”
Newer buildings like BV Southwest and BV West have a central plant where heating and cooling are distributed throughout the school.
Wood said in the average school year she files 800 to 1,000 maintenance complaints.
“I pretty much know if there’s a problem,” she said. “There are certain rooms that always have a problem, and it isn’t imaginary — the unit that services that room could be really old.”
If a teacher feels his or her room is excessively cold or warm, they get a thermometer from the office, report the temperature in their classroom to the office, and if the room is over or under the temperature set by district, a report is filed. If the temperature is severe enough, a call will also be put in to district.
“I could complain to the office, and they’d be very receptive, and they’d call district,” Spanish teacher Anita Lemons said. “[The district would] come and check sometimes days or weeks later and say it’s perfectly fine. Then I’d say ‘according to them,’ but according to me, it’s not fine and according to some of my students.”
To cope with drastic temperatures, Hill said students and faculty need to do their part by dressing appropriately.
“If students need to bring a sweatshirt and wear some jeans, that’s just what they need to do,” Hill said.
Lemons, however, decided to take matters into her own hands regarding the cold temperatures in her classroom.
“In order to solve the problem without really going through a lot of channels, I decided to get a little block of ice that gets put in the bottom of a lunch bag,” Lemons said. “First hour is fine, but by third hour, after two hours of cold air coming in here, I put the little block of ice and tape it on my thermometer, and we then get a very nice temperature.”
Lemons said due to her innovation, she enjoys normal temperatures in her room and has used it to teach her students problem-solving skills.
“I enjoy teaching when I’m not freezing to death,” Lemons said. “And my hands work better when they’re not cold.”