CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the first day of school in Kanawha County looming the Kanawha County Board of Education finds itself facing another tall order to insure all buildings in the county have adequate air conditioning.

Board members learned earlier this week the cost to bring those units up to speed headed into the year will be around $800,000.

“I think the greater concern here is we may start to face this same issue every August,” school board member Ric Cavender said. “We’re going to have to have a serious conversation about long-term solutions to these problems.”

The long-term solution some have suggested, including Cavender, is to raise the cap on the county’s excess levy to pay for improved HVAC service in all schools.  Although he knows some will not want to hear that, Cavender says it does make sense to him.

“That would be probably the quickest way to solve this problem,” said Cavender. “Frankly, I can’t think of a better initiative in the excess levy than to fix a problem that in the long run will cost us more money if we keep doing what we’re doing now.”

Kanawha County students go back to class Aug. 14, earlier than most in West Virginia.  The early start time resulted from increased state demands on the school calendar and particularly a mandate for 180 days of instructional time.   Some offer it would ease the situation greatly if students went back to school after Labor Day, which at one time was the normal return date.   Cavender said he’s willing to discuss that–but doesn’t think it fixes the problem.

“Some folks have made that point,” he said. “But at least in the past five years, and maybe longer, the month of September has been hotter than the month of August in the Kanawha Valley.”

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