The City Doesn't Know How Many AC Units are in the Schools

On Tuesday, Mollison Elementary School on the 4400 block of South King Drive blew a transformer, likely because that transformer couldn't handle a cache of new air conditioners added to the building

Alderman Pat Dowell said as much.    "CPS made improvements and was supposed to telll Com Ed they added air conditioners." If it had known about the new power demand from the unites Com Ed would have "put in a higher performing transformer, but this did hot happen."

The power situation at Mollison prompted numerous Chicago reporters to ask Chicago Public Schools officials to tell the public which schools had air conditioning on premises, and how many other schools were at risk of losing a transformer. 

Nearly 24 hours later, the answer from CPS is: We don't know how many air conditioners we have. At least, that's what they told our reporter, Mary Ann Ahern.  

@ChiPubSchools: @MaryAnnAhernNBC As shared earlier, since many schools received new AC this year, we're awaiting final count of schools w/full/partial AC.

Catalyst Chicago Magazine has a chart, however, that gives some informationdrawn from CPS records. The chart shows that 12% of CPS Schools do not have information on whether or not they have air condition. Another 11% definitely do not have it and 37% have partial air conditioning, although the term "partial" is not clearly defined. 

Ahern pressed for answers from CPS and finally tweeted her question.  

"Why won't CPS just tell us the number of air conditioners we have"? 

CPS Spokeswoman Becky Carroll replied: "We don't have an updated number yet which we told you earlier today. What else would you like us to do if we don't actually have the numbers?"

In leiu of figures, CPS sent over it's heat protocol for schools. 

As part of our standard heat protocol, all principals and network chiefs have been instructed to follow the following plan:

  • Drawing shades in rooms to keep out sunlight

  • Turning off overhead lights when feasible

  • Moving classes, where possible, into cooler parts of the building. In cases where a building is partially air conditioned, using those rooms (again, where possible) as opposed to non-air conditioned or warmer rooms

  • Providing water and regular water breaks

We are finalizing and updating the total number of schools that do not have air conditioning, but the majority of schools in the district have full or partial A/C in the school.

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