Teachers union weighs in on hot APS classrooms

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many parents have reached out to KOB 4 to talk about air conditioning issues at Albuquerque schools.

“This week, it’s ridiculous,” said Valerie Herrera de Ramirez, a Chaparral Elementary School parent. “It is 90 degrees in the classroom. It is extremely hot. My boys, ‘Mom, it’s – we’re exhausted, we’re tired.'”

Ellen Bernstein with the Albuquerque Teachers Federation said hot classrooms are not only affecting students, but they’re making it difficult to teach.

“When you get really uncomfortable it’s so hard to do that and really maintain your focus,” Bernstein said.

According to Bernstein, Albuquerque Public Schools has closed over 2,000 work orders regarding faulty air conditioning, but over 300 still remain open. She’s not hopeful that means more comfortable classrooms are in the future.

“Well, I’d like to tell the educators there’s a solution in the near future, but I can’t,” Bernstein said.

The district is dealing with supply chain issues causing months-long delays and a lack of funds.

“We’re looking at some really crazy delivery times right now, and they’re totally overwhelmed right now,” said John Dufay, the executive director of operations at APS.

“We don’t have the money for the upgrades, we don’t have the talent to make sure it’s well maintained, and we don’t have the equipment,” Bernstein said.

She pointed to a bond measure voters rejected in 2019 that took money away from school maintenance.

“I think for this coming year, it’ll be in a way that doesn’t have a significant impact on operations, but it would have a very large impact on future years if we don’t address this,” said Scott Elder, who was the chief operations officer at APS at the time.

Bernstein said she’s hopeful that as awareness grows about the teaching conditions and learning conditions that the public will vote for the bonds that it takes to get new equipment to keep classrooms comfortable.

Bernstein said some teachers have purchases their own portable air conditioning units with their own money.

According to the APS director of operations, they have crews working on these issues seven days a week – sometimes 12 hours a day.