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Broken AC at Wake Co. school will take months to replace

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A temporary unit was installed Monday night at Laurel Park Elementary School near the Apex-Cary border.

Some Wake County elementary school students are feeling the relief of cooler air after starting the school year in hot classrooms. But their parents are learning it will take months before the school's broken AC system can be replaced.

A temporary unit was installed Monday night at Laurel Park Elementary School near the Apex-Cary border, after parents said temperatures inside their children's classrooms soared into the 80s.

When ABC11 first reported on the hot conditions in late July, Bill Fletcher, who represents District 9 on the Wake County Board of Education, said problems with the AC system had persisted for years. The latest issue had to do with a computer glitch causing the system to shut off.


Ashley Cichocki was walking her twin first grade daughters to school Monday when she said their teacher sent an email to parents asking they drop off fans if they could, letting them know it was already 83 degrees inside their classroom.

"They did say that they were sweating," Cichocki said of her daughters who she ended up picking back up by 12:30 that afternoon.

On Tuesday, Fletcher said school district staff had decided enough was enough.

"We've got to the point now where baling wire and chewing gum isn't going to work anymore."

He said the root of the problem dates back eight years when the district converted a vacant industrial plant into a two-story school, while keeping the original AC unit.

A new replacement system won't be installed until March, he said.

What takes so long?

"Simply the fact that the system has to be engineered, components priced and bid out, and then the installation process," Fletcher said. "And of course we wouldn't want to try to install a new system during the heat. It's much better to do it when the system can be offline and not needed to keep the temperature in the building conditioned."

WCPSS owns the temporary chiller. Officials said there won't be any significant additional costs to running it during the next several months.

Parents just hope there won't be any issues with it while they wait and look forward to next spring.

"I just think that's kind of a long time," said Cichocki. "But if this is going to work for now -- as long as it's working, that's fine."

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