Turn Up the Heat

Abbey Fernandez and Aaron Hendel

Considering the near $100 million Westport Public School budget, one would think an adequate climate control system would be a given inside the modern Staples High School building.

Think again.

Not a lunch period goes by during the winter months without constant complaints from the Staples population about the intolerably cool air that blows down on them as they try to warm up with their hot soup.

Or take a student distracted on their chemistry test because the science rooms may as well be igloos.

Elizabeth Colwell ’14, one of many who are openly dissatisfied with the temperature inside the building, laments, “I have constant goose bumps as I go about my day as a student.”

Now, just how cold is it?

That’s a great question, because no one knows. Not even head custodian Horace Lewis. According to Lewis, the temperature is sensory-controlled based on the number of people in the room, thus the temperature is constantly fluctuating based on carbon dioxide levels. This helps explain why the cafeteria, which is rapidly filled and emptied of students at various times in the day, is typically the coldest area of the building.

Climate control should perhaps notbe this complicated. At Coleytown Middle School, where Lewis used to work, he said, “If a room was too cold, a teacher could simply call me and I’d adjust it.”

The computer-operated system cannot be manually adjusted by the building staff. Mr. Dodig explains, “If there seems to be a problem, [Lewis] calls the HVAC person who checks his on-line data. He [HVAC person] can raise or lower temperature from his laptop as long as all of the valves are working properly.”

Hands-on control of the temperature seems like a mucheasier and more logical system that would eliminate the need for some students to wear gloves in class.

It is perplexing that a school with so much to offer cannot even keep their students warm. Staples is fortunate to be so technologically advanced; however, when fingers are frozen to the point where calculators cannot be used, the method should bereconsidered, and perhaps mirror Coleytown’s.

Surely funds can be redirected to provide a simpler more direct means of altering and sustaining classroom climate. Chances are, money would be saved in the long run.

A less complex system would not only stimulate blood flow in the students, but will also provide a suitable learning environment––one in which the students and teachers alike can take off their ski jackets upon entering the building and get down to the business of school.