Wellwood International Elementary School is one of five Baltimore County schools that will have air conditioning installed, thanks to a new pledge by the county executive.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced $17.2 million in funding to cover the county’s share of the $29.2 million cost of installing air conditioning at Wellwood and four other schools. The Maryland Board of Public Works also voted to allocate the other $11.7 million through Gov. Martin O’Malley’s FY2014 Capital Improvement Program: Air Conditioning Initiative.
“We are really happy about it,” said Tricia Rueter, Wellwood’s principal.
In addition to consequences in the classrooms, it affects before- and after-school programs, and the school has not been able to hold any summer programs in the building.
“Students are more lethargic as a consequence of being overheated,” Rueter said. “Teachers’ performance is limited to a degree because [classrooms can reach] 90 degrees plus.”
The school’s offices, conference room, library, computer lab and two trailers are air-conditioned. For the rooms without air conditioning, the school has taken precautions such as making sure each classroom has a water cooler.
When Kamenetz took office in 2010, 52 percent of county schools didn’t have air conditioning. With state and county funds, air conditioning has been installed in 43 schools since January 2011. This new funding, which also includes air conditioning installation at Featherbed Lane Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary, Parkville Middle School and Scotts Branch Elementary, will bring the percentage of schools without air conditioning down to 23 percent.