ROCK SPRINGS — Reporting an average temperature of 81.6 degrees and very little coverage by air conditioning, the late summer heat inside Rock Springs High School has become a concern for a parent organization. Some students say the atmosphere inside the building can make it hard for them to focus in class.
“It gets very hot in there,” RSHS Student Rowan Keele said.
“It gets distracting,” a second RSHS student, McKenzie Ouellette, said.
While many buildings as old as Rock Springs High School don’t have full air conditioning, parents and students say the climate is a problem. The push for earlier school start times has led to classes being in session during times the area has seen late summer heatwaves.
Natalie Powell, the co-chair of the Rock Springs High School Parent Involvement Team, said the district had opened school after Labor Day, missing much of the August heat. However, she said that has changed during the past few years. Powell also said while the average temperature recorded by people in the school was 81.6 degrees, temperatures ranging from the 70s to the low 90s were recorded in the building.
She said while some teachers have fans in their rooms, the district hasn’t done a lot to deal with the situation and further said the average temperature exceeds OSHA standards. According to OSHA’s policy on indoor air control, the organization recommends a room temperature to be between 68 and 76 degrees. The policy further states that temperature and humidity are “a matter of human comfort rather than hazards that could cause death or physical harm.”
RSHS Principal Glen Suppes said rooms in the building get hot or cold depending on the season, but the temperature within the high school hasn’t been unique to other buildings he has worked in that lack air conditioning.
“It’s been no hotter than any other building I’ve worked in,” he said. “Yes, it’s warm, but we go to school in the fall.”
Suppes said he wasn’t aware of students passing out from the heat or getting frostbite because of extreme cold within the school building. He also said the district’s facilities manager, Dan Selleroli, has done a great job in addressing issues that have come up within the building. However at least one student has taken notice of where air conditioning is in the building. Chaz Hogmire said students have heard about how the district can’t afford air conditioning for the whole building, but said the school library and administration offices have air conditioning.
For Superintendent Kelly McGovern, the solution is clear — the district needs a new high school building. Prior to the district’s board of trustees entering into an executive session to discuss personnel Monday evening, McGovern made a plea to parents and residents to help the district convince state officials of the need. McGovern said she and Selleroli have testified before state education officials about the state of the high school for the past few years, but have been unsuccessful in securing funds for a new building.
“We need your help,” McGovern said. “Together we will succeed or together we will fail,.”