Jefferson County K12 loses AC for a portion of the first day back to school

Jefferson County School Board addresses AC issues after hot return to school
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 12:10 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) - Jefferson County students had their first day back for the new school year on Monday, but officials said multiple buildings lost air conditioning for a portion of the day.

“When we got here this morning it was very cool,” said Principal Jackie Pons. Pons said some buildings got increasingly warmer throughout the day, while other buildings lost A/C altogether.

Jefferson County was originally scheduled to start school on Thursday, Aug. 10. However, Superintendent Eydie Tricquet said they pushed it to Friday - and ultimately - Monday, because the AC was still not working.

“I would’ve never let my kids come here under these conditions,” said Jefferson County parent Teri Parrish.

Parrish said she was surprised when her daughter called asking to leave school early because it was too hot in her classroom. “How are they going to be able to focus on getting their education?” said Parrish.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, members voted unanimously to approve the district’s rental of an air conditioning chiller to help resolve the issue. The rental will cost $16,000 per month, and the district anticipates leasing the equipment through December.

Tricquet told WCTV the district ordered its own chiller in September 2022, and it still hasn’t arrived. At Monday’s meeting, she said the chiller is estimated to arrive this November.

“We’re still working on it, and we’re looking forward to making sure we get that under control, so we can have the type of environment that really helps our students to be successful,” said Pons.

Though parents at the meeting were visibly frustrated, school board member Bill Brumfield said they are doing what they can. “I don’t think there’s a member sitting up there that doesn’t know the pain of these folks right now,” said Brumfield. “We care for the children, and we’re trying to work with the superintendent, and I think she’s trying to do her best right now.”

Officials expect the AC to be working properly on Tuesday; however, Tricquet said if it’s not, they can make the call for an early release on Wednesday. She said they would not call an early release on the same day, because they want to make sure parents can arrange to pick up their kids.

Tricquet said during Monday’s meeting that students would not be penalized if they miss school because they have health issues and cannot withstand the heat.

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