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Teachers looking to beat the heat at schools in Santa Maria

Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Central Coast educators want to address sweltering conditions in their classrooms, brought on by record breaking heat this fall and a lack of air conditioning in older buildings. 

Elementary and middle school teachers in Santa Maria are meeting Wednesday night with the district's Board of Education to find solutions.

In recent weeks, Santa Maria-Bonita School District teachers have reported temperatures in the 80s and 90s in their classrooms. Teachers say the heat is making conditions 'almost impossible' in their already over-crowded rooms.

The Santa Maria Elementary Educators Association wants the board to take action.

Jose Segura is the association's president.

"Air conditioning is commonplace and almost universal in all public buildings, whether state, local, federal, or city, except public classrooms. So for some reason, rooms that house children, air conditioning is optional, but yet in buildings that house adults, air conditioning is standard," he said. "We think that's a travesty."

More than half of district classrooms are air conditioned.

Maggie White, Spokesperson for Santa Maria-Bonita School District, said that the heat is not ideal, but the staff does a good job focusing on academics.

"In order to put air conditioning in those older wings and older buildings, it would be a very complex, and time consuming and expensive process," said White. "Estimate that we have from several years ago, when we were looking at what it would cost to put air conditioning in the non-air conditioned classrooms is $20 million." 

On Friday, Santa Maria's Joint Union High School District declared a 'heat day' and let students out early. White says during her almost 20 years with the elementary district she can't recall ever having a 'heat day.' 

She says younger students are safer at school during these times when some parents cannot arrange to pick up their children earlier than usual.

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