GUAM STUDENTS WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING

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By Carlos B. Pangelinan

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 3) –While thousands of dollars last year were spent on air conditioning, students, teachers and support staff at Southern High School have endured an entire year without full and consistent cool air.

While much was said last month by school officials about the installation of 12 new direct expansion, or DX, units at the Santa Rita school, they weren't installed as of yesterday. And older units have not always been reliable because of maintenance issues.

"They need to hurry and do something about it," Corolyn Whalen said. "The kids are really uncomfortable; they can't do their work."

Whalen has a son who is a freshman at the school.

Anderson Joseph, one of the school's assistant principals, said the new units were expected in December and they were meant for the main office, nurse's office, counseling office, fine arts theater and at least one main classroom building.

He said work has been going on to prepare for the installation, but the new units have yet to arrive.

Overall, Joseph said all but one classroom in the school is without air-conditioning, and because of little maintenance, there is no consistency in service to several classrooms in each of four main buildings with classes.

"One week would be OK, the next week it's working but not at an optimal level," Joseph said. "So far we've been lucky."

Umatac resident Joseph Sanchez said his daughter, who is a senior at the school, routinely complains.

"They have to pick it up, it's a new year," Sanchez said. "They have to work something out to fix the air con."

Meanwhile, work continues to repair and install two brand new chiller units at Tamuning Elementary. Shortly before Christmas break, the units were broken into and copper tubes were stolen.

Principal Kathy Reyes said, as a result, Freon was lost and that it would take at least until late February to be replaced. She added the single chiller the school relies on has been in working order.

Currently, GPSS has a maintenance contract for about $300,000 worth of preventative maintenance services, but according to assistant controller Ray Miranda, that amount is depleting.

"We've practically run out of contractual money as of Dec. 31," he said. "We are trying our best to resolve all issues and the one thing with regard to air conditioning is that, on a daily basis, they really could be breaking at any given time," Associate Superintendent for Elementary School Corina Paulino said.

Paulino, who is currently the acting GPSS superintendent while Luis Reyes is on leave, said air-conditioning problems span the entire school system.

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