Air conditioning woes create Northwest nomads


English teacher Scott Walker addresses his class Monday, Sept. 16. His air conditioning was broken for the first three weeks of school and fixed before Open House.

Student walk into their fifth period class and immediately feel a wave of heat radiating from the room. They can feel beads of sweat line their forehead as they take a seat in the back of the class.   Exhaustion takes hold of them as they struggle to understand already mind-numbing material in a classroom on the brink of sweltering.

As teachers realize this problem has no foreseeable end and have received no communication from the county, they are forced to become nomads of Northwest, wandering from classroom to classroom, trying desperately to fit together schedules of already over-booked teachers. 

For at least five teachers and their five classes at Northwest, this experience continued for a miserable three weeks at the start of school. Broken AC units were fixed one by one, miraculously before parents visited the school during Walk the Schedule on Monday, Sept. 16.

English teacher Scott Walker realized his air conditioning unit was broken during the teacher workdays before the start of school. With highs in the upper 80s, he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep his afternoon classes in his room.

“I started moving my afternoon classes out, and then I just figured I had to move all the classes out because it was getting to be 85 to 90 degrees in here,”  Walker said. “By third period it was uncomfortable; people were putting their heads down and wiping their brows.”

This AC problem is simply a microcosm of larger problems with maintenance that Northwest faces.  Together, an aging campus, loss of funding and a bigger student body create a perfect storm for problems from cleanliness to the safety of the campus.  While a shortage of bathroom paper towels doesn’t seem like a big deal, a shortage of salt to line the trailer walkways during days when there is snow and ice certainly is.  

“I’ve heard things like the county has said that they don’t have the manpower or the man hours to send maintenance crews out here,” Walker said. 

While these problems seem minuscule in the bustling lives of the student body,  changes in a classroom setting can completely inhibit a student’s full learning potential.  Teachers work hard to establish a safe working environment where they can best function, but with the relocation of the classroom, supplies otherwise seen as given are hard to access.

Another teacher whose AC was broken at the start of school was social studies teacher Greg Shue.

“I can’t deliver 100 percent of my lessons when we’re moving from place to place.,” Shue said. “A lot of the extras–videoclips, images, posters, all that stuff–was not there to enhance the lessons.” 

For many other classrooms throughout the school, this was a daily occurrence. Borrowing classrooms with teachers who have planning periods and functioning air conditioning only burdened the traveling instructor or the students, but also the teachers whose classrooms were being used. 

“They (teachers) prefer to float through other classrooms so that they can be in a classroom environment, but that’s a process in and of itself,”  Media specialist Natalie Strange said. “Especially during these first few weeks of school, it would be difficult for those students to figure out ‘where will my classes be today?’” 

Fortunately, for now, the air conditioning woes are fixed, just in time for cooler weather to come in.

However, what will next summer bring?