NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The Board of Education has earmarked $200,000 in its 2019-20 budget to install air conditioning in the third floor of Roosevelt Elementary School.
The announcement came at Tuesday’s meeting in which the board voted unanimously to adopt a $223.5 million budget for the next school year that will be $9.5 million more than the current budget and will add an estimated $94.98 to the property tax bill for the average homeowner.
The move to install air conditioners in the school on Livingston Avenue comes after a group of parents have repeatedly pushed for air conditioning in three city schools.
Parents have asked the school board and the city council to get improvements in Lincoln, Livingston and the Roosevelt elementary schools, all of which are more than 100 years old.
Last June, the school district had early dismissals at those three school because of the steamy temperatures.
In response to the repeated requests, school officials explained that 10 city schools have air conditioning, and parts of Lincoln and Livingston also have temperature control. The school board and city council members said costs for making those improvements in the three schools are a major roadblock.
Some parents applauded the board for the plan to add air conditioning to the 20 rooms on the third floor of Roosevelt school.
Richard Jannarone, business administrator and board secretary for the city schools, said the plan was to finish adding air conditioning to the third floor of these schools, then work down to the second floor.
Jannarone said although a wall unit typically costs about $5,000, the issue of electricity supply presents a big financial issue.
“In 2015-16, we went out to bid to provide air conditioning to Lincoln School and the electrical upgrade alone the prices were in the mid-300,000s to high $300,000 range,” he said. “So, Livingston School should be about the same. So, our estimate in order just to provide the electric to Lincoln and Livingston schools would be anywhere in the $400,000-$500,000 rnage for each school. Then, once you have the electric it will probably cost you another $150,000 to $200,000 to now supply that electric through the building to the floors and put in the wall units.”
Heather Sorge, organizer of Healthy Schools Now, a coalition of more than 50 organizations representing a diverse set of stakeholders dedicated to ensuring all children and school employees learn and work in "safe, healthy, modernized school buildings," urged the board at the meeting to do more.
"Our children should not have to beg to stay home because it’s too hot in their classroom," she said. "To come home crying because they suffered for seven or eight hours in a sweltering classroom day after day. Let me ask you, could you learn in that environment? Could you honestly do your best? Give 100 percent? I know I certainly could not."