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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Gym HVAC advocates shift aims to improving current systems 

Nicole Lee
Athletes have been struggling with extreme temperatures in the gym due to an antiquated HVAC system.  

Parents, teachers and athletes have been pushing for a revamp of the gym’s faulty HVAC system since last year. However, the district recently canceled the project due to unexpectedly high replacement costs totaling $3.5 million, but the group has continued to campaign for a new HVAC and is now looking for ways to find short-term improvements. 

Junior Adriene Chung created a petition in June in support of replacing the HVAC system, with the goal of sharing the signatures with the board to demonstrate athletes’ and students’ support of the upgrade. Beyond this petition, campaign members like Chung have been regularly attending board meetings, organizing meetings with superintendent Bill Sanderson and chief business officer Delores Perley.

“The petition wasn’t really to put pressure as much as it was to centralize the flow of information and make sure it was easier for people to access updates and context,” Chung said. “So through, I’m able to send out updates to ask people to attend board meetings, or let them know about any progress that’s been made.”

The HVAC system in the gym hasn’t been updated since the school was founded in 1959. According to history teacher Mike Davey, who has coached basketball teams for most of his 30 years at the school, the last major renovation of the gym was a resurfacing of the floor 31 years ago. Because of the lack of upgrades, athletes who play in the gym facilities say they have little to no effective air conditioning and heating to protect them from the severe hot or cold weather outside, which has been detrimental to both the team’s health and capacity to play. 

“It’s a health hazard for students, especially [those] playing sports,” said junior Riley Adler, who, along with Chung, is spearheading the campaign.

Although the season has already started, Davey has noticed small positive changes since the campaign started. While the district doesn’t have the $3.5 million to upgrade the entire HVAC system, officials  have paid for cheaper short-term improvements.

Previously, it required a visit to the locker room to try to make any temperature adjustments in the gym, but the district has attempted to make this easier by installing a new thermostat on the gym wall. 

The district has also fixed the previously existing heating system to work properly and for longer periods of time than its previous half-hour life. They have also purchased portable heaters for use there. 

Since the campaign began, the board has also been more transparent and has started sending updates through an email thread to the campaign group, Adler said.

The group is still talking to the school board in an effort to keep making improvements. Davey, who has also tried to bring attention to the issue, is seeing some signs of hope from the board despite his disappointment of seeing the bigger improvement project rejected.

“We’re hopeful that they’re pressured and can do something to help us short term and long term because there’s two different goals: Making it through the season is the short-term goal, and how to fix this is the long- term goal,” he said.

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