No AC For You! Why Didn’t Billings SD2 Install New HVAC at West High?
OK- let's start with the funny part about this story first. One of our radio listeners, Tim in Billings, pointed this out.
As temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees, several students at West High School in Billings, Montana staged a walkout from class protesting the lack of air conditioning in the high school. If you watch the video news report from KTVQ-TV- this may catch your eye also- one of the kids protesting the lack of AC...is wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Now that's pretty funny.
But on a serious note, I wondered why the kids and the teachers are sweating it out in the classroom. Didn't Congress and the federal government, in the name of COVID-19, allocate a whole pile of money for this very thing- for better HVAC systems and ventilation? Why yes. Yes, they did.
I reached out to Brian O'Leary who is the Communications Director for the Office of Public Instruction here in Montana. He says School District 2 in Billings could apply for funding using the federal ESSER dollars for this very thing, but that SD2 had not submitted a budget to the state.
According to the ESSER plan submitted by SD 2, on page 13 under Planning to Use, “yes” was selected for the category “Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and nonmechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.”
The district has been allocated ESSER II and III dollars but no application or budget has been submitted at this time for the use of those dollars.
O'Leary tells me that SD2 can still submit an application and budget for ESSER II and II dollars. Those funds can be used to to update HVAC systems if the plans are approved by the school board.
I sent a follow up note to School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham to see if the district will seek out funding in order to update the HVAC system at West High. I'll keep you posted if we get a response.
LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state