Is APS ready to handle the heat wave?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In less than two weeks, APS students are going back to class. Many families are concerned about sending their kids to school in the middle of this heat wave – especially because there have been issues with some APS cooling systems in the past.

The weather, combined with aging schools and supply chain difficulties, is going to lead to some hot classrooms.

APS officials say they are doing everything they can right now, and principals are currently checking the cooling systems in their schools to see what needs attention.

“Understanding that they are all mechanical, so what works today – a motor may burn out,” said John Dufay, executive director of Maintenance and Operations at APS. “Because we’re running systems much longer right now than we ever have because it’s so hot.”

Dufay says the evaporative cooling systems, when working correctly, may only get classrooms 20 or 25 degrees cooler than what it is outside. He said around 60% of the calls they get for a hot classroom are what they call “false calls” – meaning everything is working normally, but it’s still hot.

Nearly $30 million of federal funds from COVID relief is going to upgrading HVAC systems in around 90 of the about 150 schools in the district. However, that won’t be done until the end of next year.

KOB 4 asked why not use that federal money to upgrade to refrigerated air in some of those older schools, but Dufay said it’s all about making the money go further. Refrigerated air transitions are expensive and sometimes would require re-doing the school’s rooftop. The district made a choice to improve more schools a little bit, versus improving a few schools a lot.