In the heat waves that greeted students back to school in the previous two weeks, those at the Lincoln School and in parts of Revere High School really had to sweat it out in stifling conditions.
Supt. Dianne Kelly said back to school in those two buildings was all about controlling the heat and exhaustion for students and staff, and she said she hopes they can fix that by next school year.
At the Lincoln School, the building is not air conditioned, and temperatures climbed quickly last week during the afternoons. Kelly said they have been trying to put air conditioning window units in the school for the last two years, but have run into electrical issues.
“The first hurdle we ran into was the electrical infrastructure in the Lincoln, which didn’t have the capacity to handle all of the window units,” she said.
She said they have signed a contract with Ameresco to upgrade the electrical system in the Lincoln next summer. The cost for that is $160,000, she said, and they hope it will lead to a borrowing for new UniVent systems for the classrooms before next September.
“The work is going to take some time and we’re going to look into seeing what they can do in the summer next year,” she said. “Once the electrical is done, the City Council will have to bond the costs of the UniVent systems.”
She said the most recent estimates were those systems would cost in excess of $1.5 million.
At Revere High, the core of the building is air conditioned, and the east wing (where Seacoast used to be) is also air conditioned. However, several of the externally facing classrooms have no air conditioning and get rather hot.
There, they will likely not look to take any action because students are in air conditioning part of the day and not in the a/c the rest of the day. Since the district is vying to get into the state pipeline to build a new high school, adding air conditioning there prior to a major building project would not make sense.
However, Kelly said if they do get into the pipeline this December, the idea would be to repurpose the existing high school for a centralized middle school, which would have a/c.
“If we can build a new school and retrofit the existing high school for a middle school, a/c would be part of the reconditioning we do before we bring middle school kids in here,” she said.
Juniors, Seniors to
pilot personal tech
Revere High juniors and seniors will have the option this year to bring their own computers or technology devices to school in order to work on them for academic reasons.
Supt. Dianne Kelly said students in Grades 9 and 10 will be assigned ChromeBooks once again, but students in 11th and 12th grades will have the option to use a district computer or use their own computer.
It’s a new frontier for the schools, and Kelly said the biggest concern is making sure students are safe online and that they are using their devices for academics.
“Those that choose to bring their own devices will have an appointment with the Technology team,” she said. “They will allow the device on our internet and intranet, but it will be restricted. While they’re here and on the network, they will be limited on what they can do so they can be focused on academics and be safe. When they leave the school, it drops off to normal operations.”
The idea was something that students called for, as using one computer at school and one at home was hard to navigate. The ChromeBooks used a different system than many kids had who use Macs or other devices. Many students also preferred to simply use their phones or tablets to complete work.
Kelly said it didn’t make sense to restrict students and make things harder for them. While Revere was a pioneer in providing technology to students – called one-to-one technology – the need for such things has grown smaller and smaller, especially for older students.
“We are moving to a space in time where these devices are more accessible,” she said. “People don’t want to be doing things on their home device and then same work on a different device at work…I think we’re seeing a time where there is more accessibility to this technology. We started one to one because so many kids didn’t have access to technology at home. That’s changed dramatically now and kids have the technology and they want to use their own technology, not the school’s.”
She said they are confident that the technology infrastructure at Revere High is strong, and there are plenty of firewalls and protections in place to make sure no one accesses risky sites.
“We’re really just trying to keep up with the times,” she said.