Each year the hot sweltering days of term one brings the question: Why don’t schools have air-conditioning? There is no easy answer.
The majority of schools are funded through State and Federal Governments which, in turn, are funded through tax collection. Asking for air-conditioning for all schools and all rooms would also mean asking for a tax increase to pay for them.
It could also mean redirecting taxes from hospitals and roads to pay for cooler classrooms. It should also be noted that school fees are kept at reasonable levels and an increase to fund air-conditioning would take away from learning materials and be an added hardship for families.
The other factor requiring consideration is the running expenses associated with the electricity needed to power air-conditioning.
School electricity use is funded by the government and the same argument about increased taxes is applicable. It also means that the carbon footprint of the school is increased having a negative impact on the environment.
So what can schools do to address the need for cooler classrooms as our climate gets warmer and temperatures soar? Cabramatta High School has addressed this in a number of ways. There are a number of buildings and rooms which are air-conditioned - especially the seven computer rooms, library and large hall - ensuring examination comfort.
The carbon footprint of these is being offset by the installation of solar panels, due to be completed in March.
Another method used is through passive energy cooling systems in the new buildings with warm air removed from the buildings through large exhaust fans. Blinds on windows decrease the sun’s impact as does the building of wide verandas.
The school is currently adding three more verandas to provide shade and shelter from the harsh elements. Planting trees and shrubs also creates shade and coolness to buildings.
Students and families can also play a part in being prepared for the summer months through wearing sensible clothing for the heat and bringing a bottle of cool water.
Working with our schools to provide relief from the heat and environmental programs that create a sustainable environment is a positive step to addressing the need for cooler schools.
Beth Godwin, principal
Cabramatta High School