KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The Osceola County School District implemented a fixed, districtwide classroom temperature standard of 75 degrees, and since then, heat complaints have been pouring in from schools.
The change, according to the district, was done in an effort to save money too effect early April. Since the implementation, teachers have been reporting situations of excessive heat in their classrooms -- with thermometers reading 80 to 86 degrees in some cases.
“When you have 24 fifth grade bodies, after recess, it’s not a very pleasant place to be,” said Apryle Jackson, President, Osceola County Education Association.
The change, prevents teachers from controlling the temperature from their classroom, as was done in the past. In just one month, the change has saved the district nearly $63,000 in utility costs. But Jackson said many classrooms are averaging much hotter than 76 degrees, and she blames an aging air conditioning system.
“A lot of our older schools, which the majority of our schools are old, the a/c units don’t do what they need to do for the entire school,” said Jackson.
The district is aware of the inconsistencies, confirming reports of “rooms or area is hot” have more than doubled since the change. 177 complaints in just one month, compared to 83 in the same month in 2018. Jackson is concerned the heat could put teachers and students at risk of health issues.
“What’s more important, the health of our employees or saving some money?,” asked Jackson.
Parents are in agreement that heat and learning don’t mix.
“My kid doesn’t sleep in heat, so I don’t imagine she’ll be able to learn in heat,” said Amanda Morgan, parent.
“I know my kid would be complaining and her little face would be all red and I don’t think she would be sitting and listening to the teachers, at all,” said Gillian Cox, parent.
“That’s not right. They should do something about that,” said Rose Jean, parent.
The district said it will keep the set temperature, but it is addressing the issue of hot classrooms, fixing AC units that aren’t working properly. Jackson said the district also has plans to replace entire units at some schools.