Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tammy Lacey’s recent Tuesday proclamation included a defense from the complaints by students and parents that some of the classrooms in the District are too cold and uncomfortable.
One of the comments from a reader on the E-City Beat Facebook page actually referred to local students shivering in a cold classroom with coats on as “whiny butts”. Really?
In Item 4 Facility update, From Tammy’s Top Ten on Tuesday December 4, 2018, Tammy observes that: “The cold weather that comes with winter has arrived in Great Falls. That means it’s time to turn up the heat and we can do just that thanks to the bond levy passage in October, 2016.” That statement appears to be partially right, and partially wrong. Yes, it is customary that the weather in Great Falls gets colder in October and November. But does the District’s ability to plan ahead and turn up the heat have anything do with the passage of the 2016 facilities bond election, or does it have more to do with the District’s attempt to save on utilities expenses? Tammy adds: “Some rooms are too warm while others can be a bit chilly on Monday mornings or because the heat has turned down over longer breaks to conserve precious budget dollars”.
It makes one wonder whether there are any offices at the Administration building on the hill that are “a bit chilly”. Do any of the folks up there making $100 – $150 grand a year have to start funding drives to buy space heaters for their work areas to “conserve precious budget dollars”?
One example of why utilities expense has trumped student comfort for a very long time can be illustrated by the lack of adequate fresh air ventilation at Great Falls High. In 1966, with the window replacement project, the district decided that bringing fresh air into the building and exhausting CO2 enriched air added to the utilities cost. Keep in mind that CO2 enriched air is injurious to your health and cognitive ability. Flu virus loves CO2 enriched air. Great for a school, right?
When the temperature drops, air brought into the structure by mechanical means, commonly referred to as forced air ventilation, requires that the outside air brought in has to be tempered. That means heating costs rise.
In spite of the fact that the original ventilation system was adequate to serve the building, the District turned it off. To make matters worse, the District boarded up all of the windows that passively supplied fresh air to the classrooms and other spaces in the building.
Turn up the heat!