Parents share frustration about AC in APS classrooms

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just days into the school year, we’re already hearing from parents who claim the temperatures inside Albuquerque classrooms are comparable to temperatures outside.

Albuquerque Public School officials told KOB 4 they anticipated air conditioning issues, weeks before fall classes began. They said maintenance crews tried to get ahead of the work that needed to be done on multiple HVAC systems. But now that kids are back in class, those crews are struggling to keep up.

“The first thing we noticed yet again, was it was extremely hot inside the classrooms,” said Valerie Herrera de Ramirez, the mother of two students at Chaparral Elementary School. “It’s when we went to meet the teachers. My second grade student’s teacher had their own personal air conditioning unit in the classroom because it was so hot.”

Herrera de Ramirez said the air conditioning is still broken a week later.

“This week, it’s ridiculous,” she said. “It is 90 degrees in the classroom. It is extremely hot. My boys say, ‘Mom, we’re exhausted, we’re tired.'”

John Dufay, the executive director of operations at APS, said maintenance crews for the district are tired as well. He said they receive 20 to 30 calls for HVAC service every day, and work overtime to replace motors, pumps, and even install entirely new A/C units.

“There’s an accumulation of a number of little issues that just seem to be contributing to a little bit of that backlog that we’re seeing right now,” he said.

Some of those issues include the hot and humid weather not mixing well with swamp coolers, crews having to wait several weeks or even months for certain parts, theft and staffing shortages.

“We’ve got crews working seven days a week, 12 hour days, and I think some of them are just getting burned out,” said Dufay. 

In addition to working longer hours, district officials said they are doing everything they can to maintain a comfortable environment for students and staff.

“We just got, today, delivered to our warehouse, another 500 fans that were that we’re putting in classrooms that have a lot of issues that may not be cooling as much,” Dufay said.

He also asked for patience from frustrated teachers, students and parents, and recommended that parents send their children to school with water bottles to help them stay hydrated.

If air conditioning problems persist, Dufay said to contact the school district and crews will try to make repairs within 48 hours of each report.

He also said issues with the swamp cooler at Chaparral Elementary have been resolved, and added that the district is slowly installing refrigerated air units in place of swamp coolers across the district.