The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

L.A. Schools Face Heat Wave with Broken A/C Systems

Sep 12, 2022

In late August and early September, as temperatures rose above the 100-degree mark for several days in many parts of the L.A. area, the facilities division of the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) was inundated with calls for air conditioning service. On one day alone, August 31, for example, facilities got about 2,900 calls from about 1,900 classrooms—roughly 1 out of 16 LAUSD classrooms—for help with A/C. In some of the classrooms, students and teachers were relocated to a cooler room on campus—if available, of course.

It’s no surprise that so many air conditioning systems are breaking in L.A. schools. By LAUSD’s own standards, on 599 of the district’s 676 campuses (nearly 90%!), HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems are at the end of, or past, their lifetime!

The head of LAUSD facilities division, Mark Hovatter, explained what the problem is: during the “Great Recession,” between 2008 and 2015, LAUSD cut its budget for routine maintenance by half! Hovatter said that LAUSD is still dealing with the consequences of a repair backlog stemming from those years of big cuts.

In fact, in “normal” times also, spending on maintenance of school facilities has been chronically underfunded, and not just in Los Angeles. A group of experts recently estimated that, overall, schools in the U.S. spend about 110 billion dollars on upkeep every year, which is only a little more than half of the minimum amount needed to maintain industry-standard levels of maintenance, 195 billion dollars.

Everybody knows that working A/C is needed in schools in L.A. (and everywhere else in the country). Children can’t learn if they are melting. So why the hell, when temps were above 100 degrees for days in a row, were 1,900 classrooms left without A/C? Of course, this affects poor children disproportionately.

The next question is, how long are we going to tolerate this intolerable situation?

Our kids lost two years of learning with COVID. Now these dilapidated buildings with non-functioning A/C are cooking our kids. This is crazy. Enough is enough!