NewsLocal News


Nearly all Billings schools air conditioned, but some have hot classrooms

Posted at 11:04 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 08:14:54-04

BILLINGS - As school begins to ramp up, many students and teachers around Billings have been greeted with extremely hot classrooms.

Five schools in School District 2 do not have complete air conditioning, with the worst case being seen at Billings West High School.

While there's a plan in place to cool down most of the problem spots, two high schools, West and Senior may have to wait.

The warm weather has been a challenge for some students in Billings.

Twenty-nine of the 34 schools in the district have air conditioning.

West is one of the schools with air conditioning only in the main office, counseling office, the weight room and in part of an auxilliary building.

"For me it's every classroom," said Brooklyn Baker, a sophomore at West. "I feel like super hot and stuffy, like even the classrooms with like 10 Kids in them."

"Oh, it's just like really uncomfortable because you're just like sitting down and it's just not very fun," said Abby Blackard, a sophomore at West.

A teacher who did not want to be on camera says the heat affects learning and teachers get exhausted.

And it's worse on the south side of the school.

"It's like hot outside but in the rooms it's hotter," said Amiyah Hernandez, a freshman at West. "And then like the teachers will open their like windows which makes them more hotter and they don't have fans."

"They don't have AC so we use fans and open the window so we can cool it down," said Alia Mitchell, a freshman at West. "But it's just like super hot in some of the rooms."

"You get into some of these schools and it gets pretty darn warm in there," said Scott Reiter, School District 2 facilities director. "I know they've done it for years but that still doesn't make it comfortable for anybody. So you've got a month in the fall and month in the spring that it gets pretty warm in some of the buildings that don't have air conditioning."

Reiter director says the Billings Public Schools have four air conditioner projects this year.

Crews finished at Miles Avenue Elementary this summer.

The Rimrock Learning Center, Ponderosa Elementary School, and Riverside Middle School will soon be completed when the parts arrive.

"I've heard they were in Texas," Reiter said about the parts that are delayed because of supply issues. "I've heard they were on a ship. I don't know for sure where they're at other than they're not here and they can't seem to get them and they don't have a date for arrival on those either."

Reiter says a $122 million elementary school bond in 2013 is paying for the air conditioning.

But none of that can go to high schools for projects at West and at Senior, which Reiter said would cost about $15 million at each school.

He said about two-thirds of the second and third floor, a couple of spaces on the first floor, the gym, and the band and choir areas have cooling at Senior.

A bond levy would have to go to voters for the high school district.

"And then we put our projects to the board for approval," Reiter said. "And if everybody approves we move forward."

He says there is no projected time when that may happen.