Who would pay for AC in schools?

Local students and parents are among those across the state crying out for a better way to keep students cool — and in classrooms — during the sweltering hot days of late summer. (A problem magnified by the return of students to classrooms before Labor Day).

Here in Marietta, teachers, administrators and staff do all they can to keep the classrooms bearable.

It is a team effort. In addition to schools shading windows, turning down lights, sharing portable cooling units and employing enormous fans, “parents send in popsicles, cold treats and bottles of water,” said Phillips Elementary School Principal Kristi Lantz. “We limit extensive strenuous activity in afternoon.”

Still there is no doubt the learning experience would be vastly improved if classrooms could be uniformly cooled. And everyone involved wishes that was an easy thing to accomplish. But in this district’s older buildings it is neither easy nor inexpensive.

Marietta is not alone. Ohio Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, lamented “It’s disrupting the learning of students, having early dismissals or schools shut down. It’s absolutely unacceptable.” And on behalf of students across the Buckeye State, he wrote in a letter to the Ohio Department of Education, that “every school in Ohio should be air-conditioned,” and asked for a cost estimate on such a project.

While it would be nice to see statewide action on the matter, the fact is, even if there is an idea how much such an improvement would cost, there is no good answer as to who will pay it. As is the case with most such ideas, the answer is likely to be taxpayers. If voters in each district feel strongly enough about the matter, they will likely be asked to provide the financial means to bring central air and/or improved electrical capacity to our schools.

Meanwhile, those inside the schools each day are playing a waiting game.

“I can’t wait until late September and October, when we get those cooler nights,” said Darrell Prim, transportation and facilities manager for Marietta City Schools.

For the sake of those who have been trying to teach and learn in superheated buildings, we couldn’t agree more.