The school year in Baltimore County, Md., has been extended well into the middle of June because the district, despite the unusually high number of snow days used last winter, still has to provide 180 days of student attendance. As a result, buildings without air conditioning in some or all of the rooms are unbearably hot and stuffy.
At Dulaney High School in Timonium, for example, staff members reported an average temperature inside classrooms of 87°F on June 16. In the county, about 30 percent of the schools, including Dulaney, don’t have air conditioning. That makes 52 schools, 20 of which are listed on the 2015-2016 capital budget project plan. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the work will be done this year, Christina Jadra writes in the Baltimore Sun.
The last day of school for the county was Friday, June 19, and schools will open in August a full two weeks before Labor Day. The district says the early start date is to accommodate the possibility of winter weather next year, but it makes for a short summer break indeed and leaves kids and their teachers struggling with the heat at both ends of the school year.
“It’s awfully hot,” the Sun quoted Marci Phillips, who teaches biology and forensics, as saying. Her classroom is near the greenhouse at Dulaney and draws heat and humidity from there. “I’ve had a couple kids fall asleep because of the heat, and they’re not trying to be disrespectful.”
Alyssa Bailiff, a junior at Dulaney, said she had to leave school early one day last year because she was overheated and dehydrated. She said she had a problem with the school spending money on sports programs and not to fix pipes that turn water from water fountains brown.
Teachers say they’re trying to “arm” school officials with data to present to the governor so he can do something to close the “air conditioning gap” in Baltimore County. I say, whatever data is brought would only be a snapshot for this year. What is needed is climate data that reports the average high temperatures expected for days when students are in school.
It looks like the report below, which is reprinted for June 19, the last day of school in Baltimore County. The average high temperature for this date in Baltimore is 85°F, but more importantly, more cooling degree-days have been used this year than the average—187 cooling degree-days used in June is 47 percent more than the area uses from on average. The average temperature therefore isn’t even the most important number.
CLIMATE REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC 124 AM EDT SAT JUN 20 2015 ...THE BALTIMORE MD CLIMATE SUMMARY FOR JUNE 19 2015... CLIMATE NORMAL PERIOD 1981 TO 2010 CLIMATE RECORD PERIOD 1870 TO 2015 WEATHER ITEM OBSERVED TIME RECORD YEAR NORMAL DEPARTURE LAST VALUE (LST) VALUE VALUE FROM YEAR NORMAL .................................................................. TEMPERATURE (F) YESTERDAY MAXIMUM 85 308 PM 99 1994 84 1 83 MINIMUM 70 528 AM 48 1954 63 7 68 AVERAGE 78 74 4 76 PRECIPITATION (IN) YESTERDAY 0.06 1.50 2014 0.11 -0.05 1.50 MONTH TO DATE 6.26 2.26 4.00 3.16 SINCE JUN 1 6.26 2.26 4.00 3.16 SINCE JAN 1 23.46 19.29 4.17 26.78 COOLING YESTERDAY 13 9 4 11 MONTH TO DATE 187 127 60 153 SINCE JUN 1 187 127 60 153 SINCE JAN 1 376 211 165 238 .................................................................. WIND (MPH) HIGHEST WIND SPEED 21 HIGHEST WIND DIRECTION NW (320) HIGHEST GUST SPEED 28 HIGHEST GUST DIRECTION NW (310) AVERAGE WIND SPEED 8.3 SKY COVER POSSIBLE SUNSHINE MM AVERAGE SKY COVER 0.8 WEATHER CONDITIONS THE FOLLOWING WEATHER WAS RECORDED YESTERDAY. THUNDERSTORM HEAVY RAIN LIGHT RAIN FOG RELATIVE HUMIDITY (PERCENT) HIGHEST 97 400 AM LOWEST 58 1100 AM AVERAGE 78 .......................................................... THE BALTIMORE MD CLIMATE NORMALS FOR TODAY NORMAL RECORD YEAR MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE (F) 85 100 1931 MINIMUM TEMPERATURE (F) 63 52 2005 1956 1954
The reporting station at BWI also reported an increase in cooling degree-days used this June over last year: 187 vs 153. However, the bigger piece of data comes from the cooling degree-days used so far this year, compared to last year: 376 vs 238, nearly a 58-percent increase in cooling degree-day requirements.
That is, this year has been hotter than last year in terms of the need for air conditioning in buildings. And we had students feeling sick and dizzy because of the heat last year.
There’s clearly an AC crisis in Baltimore County schools, and I would say no more data is even needed. But folks do what they’ve gotta do. If the school year can be expected to go into mid-June, the buildings need air conditioning, and we don’t need to hear about how buildings can’t accommodate the electrical work that would be required to install it. We need to bring those buildings up to code and keep students, teachers, and other staff comfortable so they can do their thing without passing out.