How hot is too hot inside a classroom? NYSUT calls for changes in NY schools

September 07, 2018 10:44 AM

Rebecca Brown's daughter was not in school Thursday.

"It's for her safety. She's a little girl. If she doesn't drink enough, what if she passes out?" said Brown.

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Brown says the classrooms inside Boght Hills Elementary School in North Colonie have temperatures soaring above 95 degrees. At a meet and greet before the first day of classes she said even the parents couldn't handle the heat.

"One overhead fan and that was it. The parents were just like, 'Oh my God,' and the kids with the little red faces," said Brown.

It's a scenario taking place in classrooms all across the state this week. The New York State United Teachers say they're getting reports of some classrooms topping out at 106 degrees.

NYSUT president Andy Pallotta says earlier this year, the union pushed for legislation that would have changed for acceptable classroom temps to be changed from the current 90 degrees to 82 degrees. The bills failed to pass the education committees in both houses.

Pallotta says the union is asking teachers to record temperatures in their classrooms and report back. He says the results show the legislation needs to be reconsidered.

"Kids just have their heads down on their desks. They're tired. They're lethargic and it's 90 degrees in my classroom and there's no air conditioning," said Pallotta. 

The union says closing schools on an emergency heat day is an option but says getting AC into all schools should be a top priority.

"Let's make an investment. We have things like the Smart School Bond Act, maybe some of that money can be used. It seems ridiculous. Who would want to be in a building that's 95 degrees?" said Pallotta.

Brown says the North Colonie School District seems to disagree with a need for change. She says she asked Superintendent Joe Corr to address concerns about heat and his return email just directed her back to Boght's principal.

"Got the same answer which was basically just deal with it," said Brown. "Several parents have been bringing this up for longer than I have been here and it's just been blown off each time."

Corr told NewsChannel 13 the district is doing the best they can with what they've got. He says students have modified activities on days with high temperatures and that teachers encourage hydration. Corr says students with specific medical needs are placed in air-conditioned areas.


Jacquie Slater

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