At the beginning of November, MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr proposed adding $14.2 million to the $1.35 billion MCPS budget plan, $11.5 million of which would be dedicated to Heating, Ventilation and Air Condition (HVAC) projects. The Montgomery County Board of Education submitted the request to the County Council and County Executive Ike Leggett for review and is now awaiting the results.
These funds would enable the school system to complete six HVAC projects by 2018, and increase the funds spent on the projects to $18 million. These projects would help keep classrooms the right temperature year-round: cool in the summer and heated in the winter.
“This project is an ongoing priority for the school system, as there are frequently issues with these important systems,” senior legislative analyst Essie McGuire said.
Every other year, MCPS approves a six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), a budget plan that identifies the ways in which MCPS plans to spend its money and when it will do so. Because this is an “off year,” as the last CIP was approved last year, only amendments are taken into consideration this year. Starr identified the replacement of broken or antiquated HVAC systems as a number one priority for MCPS.
“Maintenance and replacement of HVAC systems is something that has been pushed off over the years to address the district’s dramatic enrollment growth,” public information director Dana Tofig said. “This is an important part of creating a safe and comfortable environment for students to learn.”
This added funding would aim to aid schools in replacing or fixing faulty HVAC systems.
According to building service manager Angel Delgado, discrepancy between classroom temperatures is a schoolwide issue at CHS. He believes we should be chosen to receive funding, but it will ultimately be decided by the HVAC department.
HVAC system issues cause distress over clothing choices for CHS students.
“It’s really annoying when it’s cold outside, so I dress for the cold weather, and then I get into school, and it’s super-hot,” junior Amanda Funger said. “It’s horrible when you go from class to class—one class may be freezing cold and the other may be way too hot.”
According to junior Mariam Fall, she has had to adjust her wardrobe because of heating and ventilation problems.
“My English class is so freezing that I have to wear a jacket, and I usually don’t wear jackets to school, but now I have to or I’ll freeze to death,” Fall said.
If MCPS agrees to the request, they would then determine which schools’ systems are the highest priority, what steps are needed to fix or replace each system, and how to distribute the funds accordingly.
For now, the Board of Education has submitted this request to the County Executive and the County Council. In January, Leggett will submit his recommendation to the Council, which will then hold public hearings and work sessions to review the requested increase and the Executive’s recommended funds. The Council must then determine what funding level can be afforded and make a final determination in May. The school system would begin the HVAC system projects July 1.
“Throughout the year, our maintenance staff is working on issues that come up,” Tofig said. “The CIP funds would work toward replacing systems that have been inefficient or too old. We must make sure our students are comfortable so they can learn.”