Air conditioning continues to be a hot-button issue for Fresno Unified School District, which has grappled with about 800 requests for service since the start of the school year Aug. 19.

For those classrooms and other spaces without operating air conditioning, the first 13 days were sweltering. The National Weather Service recorded triple-digit temperatures in Fresno on seven of those days, and an average daily high temperature of 99 degrees since school started.

The hottest day was Aug. 27, when the mercury climbed to 105 degrees.

Systems Get Tested Before School Starts

Karin Temple, chief operating officer for facilities management and planning for Fresno Unified, said in an email to GV Wire that all air conditioning systems and units are turned on two weeks before the start of the school year to make sure they are operating properly, and repaired if they are not.

“Some issues are not known until classrooms are fully occupied with students and teachers,” she said. “In other cases, unexpected mechanical failures occur due to normal wear and tear.”

(GV Wire/Alexis DeSha)

Hundreds of Service Requests Yet to Go

As of Thursday, 600 of the requests for service had been completed, Temple said. They ranged from a warm or nonfunctioning AC unit to a central plant or system failure, she said.

Trustee Terry Slatic

Eight hundred service requests are typical for the start of the school year, she said.

They may be typical, but they’re also “utterly unacceptable,” trustee Terry Slatic said. He reiterated his call for Superintendent Bob Nelson and his staff to turn off their air conditioning until all classrooms have functioning AC.

He also contends that school employees need better training in how to track work orders. Slatic said he’s working with northwest Fresno schools on this issue.

Maintenance and Repair Work Always Ongoing

The district’s technicians perform work year-round to maintain air conditioning and heating systems, including working on projects to repair and replace aging equipment, Temple said.

At a special meeting in January to set priorities for using Measure X funds, trustee Carol Mills said that providing air conditioning districtwide was an equity issue. Measure X, a $225 million bond for school improvements, was passed by voters in 2016.

Measure X funds are being used to replace or upgrade HVAC equipment, Temple said. The district has designated $10 million annually from Measure X for deferred maintenance projects, including air conditioning, she said.

Slatic vowed at the January meeting to turn off the air conditioning in his own home until the issue was resolved. He said Friday that he’s made good on his vow, at least during the daytime. He acknowledged that at night he turns on the AC because he figures students are home by then and not subject to the district’s cooling systems.

District Could Look at AC Retrofits for Buses

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Mills brought up the topic of school buses that lack air conditioning. She said that, given the many years that buses remain in service, the district could consider adding AC to those that have been manufactured over the past 15 years and that are expected to remain in service for some time.

Temple told GV Wire on Thursday that 12 of the district’s 59 buses that lack air conditioning are 15 years or older. Buses are replaced either when they wear out or do not meet state requirements, or when grant money is available for replacements, she said.

“The district aggressively seeks grant funding for replacement buses,” Temple said.

The district had previously reported that the cost of retrofitting older buses with AC could be as much as $25,000 per bus.

2 Responses

  1. Alex station

    Slatic has no AC for his wife or children at the house isn’t that abuse and neglect this is not a Third World country this is not Afghanistan or Iraq

    And for him to turn off the district offices air conditioning well he also has an office there and the board meetings so the only one you’re suffering is yourself

    And what about the requirements of special needs children you’re gonna let them suffer to without AC while you throw your temper tantrum about how you can’t control the District your way Maybe you need to get your ladder out and start inspecting more roofs again

    And GV wire you could confirm that Slatic air conditioning is not on in his house where’s your proof

    • Daniel

      I second that☝ Let’s see the energy bills, Major! Such a noble and honorable gesture of him to turn off his home’s AC. Kind of like the soldier who retires as a Major, and makes sure that everyone knows it, despite it proving his inability to move into a rank that’s actually worthy of being placed next to his name as a Trustee. I wonder if he even realizes that a lot of kids in fresno don’t even have actual AC in their homes. Why not extend your vow and join the ‘No A/C’ movement in the evenings as well? Do that versus claiming that your great sacrifice is somehow helping our kids and FUSD’s aging Facilities. I’m sure the Supt’s staff downtown will have no problem shutting off their AC, and when constituents and students visit for services and are completely uncomfortable in the building, his staff will be sure to tell them that they are standing beside Trustee Slatic’s great sacrifice in support of our students, teachers, staff, and members of the public. Your hands-on approach(pun intended) is doing no service for this District and the City of Fresno. The only beneficial service you currently provide is your silence at the board mtgs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

We've got issues, and we're willing to share
(but only if you want them in your inbox).