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LAUSD fielding 2,600 calls to fix air conditioners during heat wave

Mike Szymanski | September 9, 2015

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Before noon, the board out front reads 112 degrees.

As a heat wave engulfed the region yesterday, LA Unified officials fielded 346 calls to fix air conditioning units. By the end of today, they were expecting at least that many more.

Tacked on to an existing backlog of calls for air conditioner repair since before school began, LA Unified has about 2,600 requests for air conditioning repairs during the current triple-digit heat wave.

“We have a handle on it, we are responding as quickly as we can,” Mark Cho, Deputy Director of Maintenance and Operations at LAUSD told LA School Report. He said the team of more than 80 maintenance worker is completing about 160 repairs a day during this heat spell, in which temperatures are as much as 15 degrees hotter than normal. Yesterday alone, workers repaired 164 air conditioning units throughout the district.

LAUSD has set aside $1 billion for a Critical Repair Fund and over the past three years, about $300 million has been used for air conditioners, Cho said.

An estimated 30,000 LAUSD classrooms and more than 1,000 other public spaces, such as hallways, locker rooms and libraries, use about 68,000 air control venting devices throughout the district, Cho said, but the problem is that most of the units are more than 30 years old. The district cannot always find compressors or parts on units that are no longer manufactured.

“That kind of thing slows us down a bit, but we are working around it,” Cho said. In worse case scenarios, the classrooms are equipped with temporary air conditioner units, or the classes are moved into air conditioned multi-purpose rooms, he added.

For the next few days, all students will remain indoors even during breaks. At noon, for example, the usually bustling school yard and playground at Allesandro Elementary School in Los Feliz was empty during lunchtime. The electronic sign in the front of the school showed that the temperature hit 112 degrees.

Meanwhile, Cho is gearing up for the next wave of repairs that will happen during the expected torrential rains predicted in the upcoming El Niño.

“Next will be the rains, and roof repairs,” he said.

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