School will be cooler this fall on six more LBUSD campuses

Summer vacation comes to a halt in Long Beach’s public schools on Aug. 29, but the end of summer doesn’t mean it’s the end of sweltering days. September and October have some of the hottest days of the year in Long Beach.

At six elementary and middle schools in the Long Beach Unified School District, students will, for the first time, find their classrooms a cool respite from what promises to be another hot late summer/early fall.

As the district continues to upgrade schools’ electrical systems and make a host of other improvements on its campuses, a process that will continue through 2026, the latest to be modernized with air-conditioning are Cleveland, Garfield, Kettering and Riley elementary schools and Rogers and Stephens middle schools.

Costs of the improvements—which can also include utility infrastructure, accessibility and fire alarm upgrades, overhead projectors, ceiling repairs and interior lighting—have, during the work completed this summer, ranged from $8.5 million for Kettering to $23 million for Stephens, where improvements also included a new artificial turf sports field, according to the district’s figures.

The source of the funding is Measure E, a $1.5 billion bond passed by voters in 2016; almost half of that money is going toward installing air-conditioning, said district spokesman Chris Eftychiou.

That kind of spending has predictably set off some nostalgic, in-my-day commenting on social media. It seems that people who once trudged 12 miles uphill through the snow on their way to school also spent hours sweltering in those same schools without air-conditioning, “and look how good I turned out.”

“It’s costly,” said Eftychiou, “because you’re not just plugging in a window unit; most of our schools are old structures with inadequate wiring for air-conditioning. They were built back before schools had so much need for electricity. Some of our classrooms only have one outlet.”

“So, like your own home improvement project, once you start on one thing, you find others, or at any rate once you’ve gone into a wall, you might as well upgrade other things, like fire alarms and lighting.”

In many cases, students from schools under construction, will be moved to other campuses. To find out which schools will be affected, click here.

The next group of schools set to be outfitted with air conditioning includes Barton, Burcham, Longfellow, Lowell, MacArthur, Mann, McKinley, Prisk (portables) and Webster elementary schools; Lindsey, Jefferson and Keller middle schools. Those campuses should all be chill by next summer.

Completion dates for schools are somewhat elastic right now, said Eftychiou. “We’ve already completed some schools ahead of schedule. Things have been going a bit faster as we’ve fine-tuned the process.”

Future air-conditioning upgrades and their projected construction and finish dates:

Summer 2019-Summer 2020

  • Bixby Elementary
  • Madison Elementary
  • Muir K-8
  • Naples Elementary
  • Prisk Elementary
  • Cubberley K-8
  • Hughes Middle School
  • Alvarado Elementary
  • Lakewood High School

Summer 2020-Summer 2021

  • Fremont Elementary
  • Holmes Elementary
  • Birney Elementary
  • Stanford Middle School
  • Twain Elementary
  • Bancroft Middle School
  • Washington Middle School
  • Avalon School
  • Wilson High School

Summer 2021-Summer 2022

  • Bryant Elementary
  • Gompers K-8
  • Gant Elementary
  • Emerson Elementary
  • Hoover Middle School
  • Beach Elementary
  • MIllikan High School
  • Sato Academy

Summer 2022-Summer 2023

  • Los Cerritos Elementary
  • Tincher K-8
  • Marshall Middle School
  • Polytechnic High School

Summer 2023-Summer 2024

  • Carver Elementary
  • Henry Elementary

Summer 2025-Summer 2026

  • Monroe Elementary
  • Tucker Elementary
  • Buffum Elementary

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.