Students push for legislation to keep classrooms cool
The closer we get to summer, the more students are feeling the heat as temperatures rise in classrooms across the state. But as our Lori Chung reports, there's now a bill to hold schools accountable for keeping students cool.
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WATERVLIET, N.Y. -- It's not central air, but these students at Watervliet High School will take any relief they can get.
“It’s hot most of the time, but there's limited days when it's unbearable," senior Joshua Veshia said.
"When it's like 90 and the humidity is really high, you're just like sticking and sweating," said senior Katelyn Murray.
Now, these AP government students want school districts to literally keep their cool, writing a bill as part of a class project that would require schools to keep temperatures in their buildings below a certain number. State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak has signed on as the bill's sponsor, saying unbearable heat can stifle student performance.
"Makes it very difficult for the students to focus and concentrate on the work that they have in front of the," Gabryszak said.
Schools would also have to create a policy to protect students and faculty during extreme weather of 90 degrees and above. That could mean major renovation costs for schools would look to upgrade or install cooling systems.
"The vast majority of the cost would be borne by the school district," Gabryszak said. “Or it's going to fall on the taxpayers."
"The state legislature has determined that this is a great thing to do, but not a great enough thing to do that they actually want to pay for it," said David Little, New York State School Boards Association Governmental Relations Director.
Little says the answer to the heat problem in schools is giving districts room to cancel class when temps get to be too much, without fear of compromising performance on end of year exams.
"We're going to treat this like a snow event as if we'd had a blizzard on the day we had a state Regents exam, we need to have the same thing happen if there are heat problems," Little said.
Whatever the solution, it will come too late for these seniors, set to graduate in June. Still, they're hoping something will be different for future students
"I wouldn't want to see other people have to sit through it as well," said senior Jordyn Sogoian. "I just think it's for the better good."
While local school districts would have to find the funding for new cooling systems, Assemblyman Grabryszak says he's hoping the state would be able to kick in some of those costs through matching grant programs.