As of Friday morning, there are more than 520 open maintenance tickets requesting air conditioning repair in Tucson schools.

Nearly 400 of those were submitted in the last two weeks.

Abby Busler’s 3-year-old son Ashton Cummins is set to start Pre-K at Wheeler Elementary on Monday.

When they attended orientation earlier in the week, the state of the building immediately caught her off guard.

I noticed it was really sticky and just not comfortable,” Busler shared. “And I did see other parents bringing out papers to fan themselves.”

She said even the front doors were open despite the 90+ degree heat, just to keep the air flowing.

The Tucson Unified School District told KGUN 9 two classrooms at Wheeler needed their compressors replaced and work correctly before Monday morning.

Crews are also working on restoring AC in the school’s library.

Busler said she wished administration would have given this information to parents, as she had not received a newsletter or any sort of formal communication from Wheeler or the district.

She’s concerned Ashton won’t absorb the learning material from class due to the heat.

I feel like theres gonna be some issues with being able to learn when youre focused on how hot it is in a classroom,” she said. “I know some children, like 3-year-old’s and 4-year-old’s, arent really able to communicate, Oh, its really hot in here.

TUSD’s Director of Facilities Greg Meier said despite having a full team, “It’s a lot of real estate,” with 231 square miles of campuses to maintain across the district.

Facilities has nine HVAC technicians on staff and four partnered contractors to fulfill air conditioning needs.

They were working non-stopincluding through weekendsto clear the hundreds of work orders, prioritizing the high traffic areas of schools first, like classrooms and cafeterias.

Meier said that the mere age of the cooling systems pose issues and they’re made worse by stress from the extreme temperatures.

A lot of them are at or have exceeded their useful life, so they could be 25 to 30-years-old,” he said. “So, its difficult to try to keep old equipment running.

Chief Operations Officer for TUSD Blaine Young said the district works constantly to find funding for its schools, including those which would help replace the HVAC systems. However, “There is always a bigger need than there is funding.”

We want our staff and our students in comfortable environments, to learn in, to teach in, and to go about their day-to-day business in school on campuses.” Young said. “And were not gonna let up until we get there. So, just know that our folks are doing everything they can because we truly care about our teachers, our staff and the kids at our schools.


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