Air conditioning installed, inspections underway at MP elementary schools

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Elementary school students in Mt. Pleasant will no longer get out of school early because of the heat.

Air conditioning units are being inspected this week after contractors have worked tirelessly this summer to ensure classrooms are ready for school to start on Thursday, Aug. 23. None of the buildings previously had air conditioning in the classrooms.

?It?s something the board has wanted to do for some time,? said John Henriksen, Mt. Pleasant Community School District (MPCSD) superintendent as he walked through classrooms at Van Allen Elementary School.

In addition to preventing early releases during warm days, air conditioning will overall increase the productivity of students. According to a Harvard study, students without air conditioning in the classrooms performed 13.3 percent worse on cognitive tests during heat waves.

?We have kids coming in on 85-degree days from recess,? Henriksen said, adding that it?s hard for them to cool down and get back to work. ?That?s lost instructional time.?

The electrical and other work above the ceiling grid done for the air conditioning units passed inspection by the state fire marshal last week at Harlan and Lincoln elementary schools. Salem and Van Allen elementary schools are being inspected today, Wednesday, July 25.

Following inspection, ceiling tiles will be dropped into the ceiling grids. Once the dust settles, the classrooms will be cleaned, floors will be waxed and furniture will be uncovered and unstacked in the classrooms.

Some teachers created classroom maps before leaving for the summer to try to make it easier to put everything back in its place.

Stephen Frese, project construction manager with Woodruff Construction, is ready to wrap it up, clean up and get the buildings turned over to the district and the teachers. MPCSD Director of Buildings and Grounds Mark Porth will oversee cleaning and preparing the buildings following final inspections and the placement of ceiling tiles.

?With school starting you have definite, absolute deadlines,? Frese said, adding that they haven?t had any notable construction problems. The most difficult part of the project was managing space in the older buildings, he said.

?It?s just a race against the clock,? Henriksen said.

The cooling units sit on the roof of the buildings and drops air through the ductwork. There are three units at Salem, four at Harlan and Lincoln and six or seven at Van Allen.

The increase in utility bills was a concern, but it wasn?t going to prevent the board from approving the project, Henriksen said. ?These units are pretty efficient,? he said.

The lights are getting an upgrade too and will dim in reaction to natural light, conserving energy.