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Carthage Central may decrease cooling at schools

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GREAT BEND — Break out the portable fans: the Carthage Central School District hopes to cut spending on utilities in the warmer months.

The Board of Education debated at Monday’s meeting whether to increase the temperature at which the district’s air conditioning units are set.

The board may make a decision at its Feb. 25 meeting.

The temperature normally is set at 74 degrees, Superintendent Peter J. Turner said, and the units are turned on in May or June.

“You can save 2 to 4 percent for every degree you change in the building,” Mr. Turner said. “It’s just an opportunity to save money.”

Board member Kent D. Burto said he wanted to see how much money the school would save before making a decision.

All of Carthage Middle School and some classrooms at Carthage Elementary are air-conditioned. Additionally, all computer labs and offices are cooled.

Some were concerned the heat would negatively affect students. High School Principal Joseph S. Sedita said that, among other reasons, the end-of-year Regents testing was moved to the climate-controlled auxiliary gymnasium two years ago because heat can be distracting during “high-stakes testing.”

Board of Education member Mary Louise Hunt recalled her teaching days at Black River Elementary.

The lack of air conditioning “was something we lived with,” she said. “We just learned how to deal with it. Would the kids have learned more if we would have had it? I don’t think so.”

However, Mrs. Hunt said she wanted to make sure there would be a few places a teacher could take students if classrooms were getting too warm in May or June.

“To me, having not worked in any kind of A/C when I worked here, I liked that I could take my kids to the computer lab, where they can have a reprieve,” she said.

The board agreed the air conditioning would not be shut off completely.

Mrs. Hunt said that if the school year were to be extended, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has suggested, the district should be prepared to keep school buildings at a comfortable temperature into the summer.

“We should prepare for that,” she said.

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