Editorial: HVAC malfunctions are unacceptable

Books cover the air conditioning units, damp paper towels cover thermostats, artwork in the orchestra room shrivels with each passing day.  Teachers advise students to bring coats to class, and the science classrooms seem to be in an entirely different ecosystem from the English ones.  Some days the classrooms are unbearably hot; other days, they’re freezing cold.  And this isn’t anything new. Every year, something seems to go wrong with North’s ventilation system.

Administration should work harder to provide students with the best possible learning environment.  The district needs to better collaborate with Aramark—the company to which the district has outsourced HVAC maintenance—to ensure that the extreme fluctuations in classroom temperature don’t undermine North’s academic standards.

Over the past 18 months, the problems with the school’s temperature have correlated closely to some extreme outdoor climate changes.  The winter of 2013 was one of the coldest in Plainsboro history—the sight of snow became as regular as the sight of students entering school in the morning.  Last summer was one of the coolest in recent memory, and the coming winter appears to be a carbon copy of the last.  The sudden shift in climate seems to have blindsided Aramark, whose heating and cooling system is slow in adjusting the temperature due to its obsolete operating system.

Three weeks ago, following a flurry of complaints, phone calls, return calls, and repair appointments, the temperature problems seemed to be resolved.  “We seem to be on track to being back to where conditions were two years ago,” vice principal Doug Eadie said.  But recently, similar temperature problems have popped up around the school, this time in rooms previously thought to be perfectly comfortably.  In the future, Aramark needs to take a proactive approach in organizing preventative maintenance appointments, as well as frequent system inspections.  The problems of the last year are downright unacceptable.  If Aramark cannot rectify the issues of the past, district administration must seriously consider cutting ties with the company.

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