Daily Court Reporter - News State lawmakers to consider air conditioning for all schools
State lawmakers to consider air conditioning for all schools
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Recently, a southwest Ohio lawmaker sought from the state superintendent of schools a cost estimate to provide air conditioning to all Ohio school buildings not equipped with it.
Republican Rep. Niraj Antani of Miamisburg made the request in light of consecutive days with high temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, prompting school early dismissals and closures in his district as well as throughout the Buckeye State.
Late last week, the lawmaker followed up with introduction of a bill ordering such a study by the education department and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission and a commitment to include funding consideration for AC, accessibility and school safety in construction of all new school facilities.
Antani had sought a timely response from State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria of the Ohio Department of Education, who did not respond within the 30-day period originally requested by the lawmaker.
House Bill 738 is a direct response to DeMaria having not responded to the original request, a press release issued at the bill's introduction detailed.
"That deadline lapsed today," the statement read. "Rep. Antani was told both by OFCC and ODE that they did not have the data requested.
"After learning more about the situation, Rep. Antani believes that air conditioning is an issue, ... as is disability accessibility and school safety."
The press release concluded that the lawmaker's interest was in addressing all of these issues in existing buildings in addition to new construction.
"Our schoolchildren deserve an adequate learning environment, and we must prioritize creating good conditions to make our school buildings safe, accessible, and conducive to learning," he said in a prepared statement.
HB 738 would require the facilities and construction committee and the education department to study the status of school buildings regarding air conditioning, accessibility, and school safety.
The bill also would require that once the study is completed, that 25 percent of future school construction money be dedicated to air conditioning, disability accessibility, and safety.
Antani penned the following correspondence to DeMaria Sept. 4:
"Today, a number of school districts in the Miami Valley announced early dismissals due to extreme heat. In the 21st century, it is unacceptable for our school buildings to not be air conditioned. This is disrupting our students' learning. As well, even on hot days that do not cause a school closure, the heat is creating a hostile environment to teaching and learning. Every school in Ohio should be air conditioned.
"I am requesting you and the Ohio Department of Education to report to my office a cost estimate to air condition every school building in Ohio that does not already have air conditioning. Please provide this to us in 30 days. Thank you."
Antani is sole supporter of the bill, which awaits committee assignment in the Ohio House of Representatives.
A German Township trustee and mother of a child enrolled in the Valley View Local School District shared her thoughts on Antani's proposal.
"As the mother of a child in Valley View Schools, which lacks air conditioning, we need Ohio to focus on providing basic support for our school facilities," Abra Reed said in a prepared statement.
Date Published: October 24, 2018