Getting school cool

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

School is out for the summer, but not everybody’s going on vacation.

Maintenance workers in the Selma City School system are getting to work on a problem that has been plaguing Selma High School since April, heat.

According to the systems coordinator of auxiliary services Ray Mathiews, the department has been battling a faulty cooling system in the east and south wings of the high school most of the spring and summer.

While Mathiews said the south wing problems have been conquered, the east wing has continued to be a problem.

“Selma High does have some unique problems,” he said. “We have eight units in the east and south wings, seven of the eight are running fine. ”

The same unit, for the east wing ground floor, has been the biggest source of trouble.

“We had two major compressors go out (out of the same unit)” School Superintendent Dr. James Carter said in an interview last month.

“We repaired it and had it running on the 16th (of May),” Mathiews said. “It came in on that Friday, we installed it on Monday, it worked until Friday the 20th.

We don’t know exactly why it went back out.”

Mathiews said the system does not want to simply purchase another compressor at a cost of several thousand dollars without finding out what went wrong with the first. Then once they get the unit working, they will monitor it closely.

“It’s going to take us another week of testing it everyday to make sure that it is running properly,” he said. “These are complicated systems, the parts you can’t get locally. (But) We’d love to get the parts locally.”

Mathiews said he knows the temperatures were harder on the students, but he feels the administration has done all that it can.

“When I’ve been in them I think it’s been in the 80’s. I think it could be uncomfortable,” he said. “Dr. (James) Carter has been very responsive. We want it to be as cool as possible as quickly as possible.”

Mathiews added that once the other units were repaired, they were able to help cool the first floor of the east wing. He said once everything

but the single unit was fixed, the east wing wasn’t cool, but it was better.

Mathiews’ department is responsible for all the system’s cooling machines so responding to their various needs is challenging.

“We probably have more ac units than anybody in the city,” he said. “When the temperature heats up, we have problems. It’s not uncommon to have three-to-four units a day go down.”

For Mathiews, who joined the school system in November, the warm weather has been a learning experience.

“Since I’m new here, there was some lag between. This is a big system,” he said, “having this many units and trying to get up to speed.”

In the end, Mathiews says the school system’s teamwork will conquer the problems.

“I’ve only been here since November but I’ve come to know that we have a dedicated staff of teachers and administrators. They really do the best.

We’ve got good folks.”