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Air conditioning relief in new schools not a sure thing

Last Updated Sep 29, 2017 at 5:58 pm EDT

The heat wave may be over and students are no longer sweltering in schools but we know temperatures will soar again at some point during the school year. It has many people wondering why there isn’t air conditioning in schools.

In Toronto, only 125 of 584 schools have full air conditioning because many of them are so old. But CityNews has learned even if a new school is built, it may not get air conditioning.

The Toronto District School Board says before construction begins a New School Review team — which includes the community, trustee and others — will assess its needs, including whether air conditioning should be included.

Of the last five new schools built in the city, three were built with air conditioning. It costs roughly $500,000 to install air conditioning in a school. If a school decides to put it in it has to cut costs elsewhere, by building a smaller gym or a simpler playground, for example.

Peel and York regions differ in that all secondary schools are built with air conditioning. Elementary schools in Peel are assessed on a case-by-case basis, while in York it could be installed in areas like libraries or gymnasiums.

Premier Kathleen Wynne took a lot of heat this week over sweltering schools. She said the province has given boards across the province $1.4 billion for upgrades that could include things like air conditioning. But that money is actually for the repair backlog, which is estimated at $14 billion.

In Toronto alone, the backlog is over $3 billion.

With roughly 10 extreme heat days during the school year, students shouldn’t expect air conditioning relief in schools anytime soon.