An Update on A/C Systems in PCPS Schools
Posted on 08/17/2023
Polk County Public Schools News ReleaseYou may have seen recent news coverage about A/C systems in PCPS schools. We’ve compiled some information to update our students, staff and community:

– Since Aug. 1 our Maintenance department has received 755 work orders for A/C issues. More than 600 of those work orders have been closed out.

– Please note that some of the orders (approx. 5%) were duplicates, and many (49%) were submitted for rooms that had working A/C — but in the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing, A/C systems can struggle to cool rooms more than 15-20 degrees. For context, A/C issues have made up less than 13% of the total work orders we’ve received over the summer.

– PCPS maintenance crews have been working diligently to finish all remaining repairs. The district is assigning maintenance staff from other trades to assist with A/C work orders. We also have authorized overtime pay for night and weekend work to make fixes as quickly as possible.

– PCPS is prioritizing repairs in rooms without working A/C that are used by students. We also are deploying portable A/C units where possible.

– PCPS is contracting with vendors for more extensive HVAC work. We also have secured more than $40 million in federal ESSER funds for various air quality initiatives, of which more than $6 million has been spent to purchase and install more than 500 new A/C systems.

– As a temporary measure, schools have the flexibility to relocate students if they are in rooms without working A/C.

– The district is also working to ensure that school thermostats are being set at appropriate levels, as a way to avoid moisture/mold buildup, and prevent A/C systems from being overtaxed.

We’ve been experiencing some of the hottest temperatures in recorded history. This has created a surge in the number of A/C issues that we typically experience this time of year. PCPS has been in contact with other school districts in our region that are dealing with the same challenges of maintaining A/C systems in extreme heat; other school districts around the country have been facing these same issues.

There also are ongoing labor shortages and supply chain issues that impact HVAC service, and Polk is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the nation, which means those resources are spread thin. There are systemic issues as well, such as the difficulty of maintaining aging school buildings when state funding has not been adequate.

With those factors in mind, we are deploying all available resources to make fixes as quickly as possible, and we appreciate the patience of our students and staff as we do the necessary work to ensure their comfort and safety.