RAEFORD (WTVD) -- Hoke County school officials are asking for parent and student patience as they replace an AC unit that's been broken for at least seven months.
Unit replacement is now underway at Rockfish Hoke Elementary School where parents first reached out and complained to Eyewitness News last October.
The parents cited comfort and medical concerns, while the school system assured them necessary unit parts would be installed this spring.
Last week, more parents began writing Eyewitness News with the same complaints and concerns about sickness and a lack of progress in fixing the unit.
On Monday, a Hoke County schools spokeswoman admitted the issue was taking longer to resolve than expected because they found out the entire unit needed to be custom-built and replaced.
"It was a little bit more involved than we anticipated," said Jodie Bryant, Director of Public Relations with Hoke County Schools. "It's not just our everyday air conditioner that you go pick up at Lowe's. It's a huge chiller that costs a whole lot of money and takes a long time to be built."
Bryant said the unit has arrived and crews are now in the installation process, although she could not provide a timeline on completion.
"They're working as hard as they can to get it installed and we're just hoping (it will be) as soon as possible for our students."
Bryant said the roughly $600,000 unit is being replaced at Rockfish Hoke, and is one of six replacement units system-wide. It's all funded through a larger $6.2 million performance contract. It's money Bryant said had been available all along.
"It wasn't about money," said Bryant. "It was simply about the complexity of the parts, of the equipment, that we're putting in."
On Monday afternoon, with windows open and fans blowing, the elementary school library registered at 84 degrees and 62 percent humidity. Some parts of the school, including certain hallways, were warmer.
Bryant said they are hoping an upcoming cool down, combined with the fans that have been in place, will provide relief for students.
"It (repairs) took a little bit longer, but we're just hoping our parents and students will work with us and be patient and just know that we're working as hard as we can."
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Elementary School Air Conditioning Unit repairs underway after 7 Months
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