Request for air conditioning in Mt. Lebanon schools gets tepid reception

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When David Apfelbaum was young, he'll admit, his schools had no air conditioning.

But today's students need better climate control, he told Mt. Lebanon school board during Monday's meeting.

Mr. Apfelbaum, a parent in the neighborhood served by Hoover Elementary School, used his laptop to show a National Weather service map displaying changes in climate trends, particularly with regard to temperature increases in recent decades.

The result, he contended, could be cause for alarm on some days near the beginning and end of the school year.

One weekday in early September, for example, the thermometer rose to 90 degrees, with high humidity.

"Inside, it was worse," Mr. Apfelbaum told the board, saying students "were dripping wet from perspiration."

He warned about the possibility of serious conditions occurring, including heat stroke, which he called "a call-to-911, flat-out medical emergency."

Mr. Apfelbaum acknowledged that each school year has only a few "dangerous days."

He suggested the district invest in portable air conditioners for buildings that lack climate control, "someplace where the kids can recover from the heat and cool down during their lessons."

Elaine Cappucci, board president, said proposals for air conditioning come up each year in consideration of the district's capital budget, but because of the costs involved, the board has not approved any such measure.

She told Mr. Apfelbaum that his suggestion would be shared with the facilities department "to see if there's anything feasible, and they can get back to the board."

In other business Monday:

* The board unanimously approved a new five-year contract for Ronald Davis, assistant superintendent of secondary education, to take effect July 1. His salary for 2013-14 is $125,839 and raises are determined on an annual basis.

He joined the district in 2007 as principal of Mt. Lebanon High School and was appointed assistant superintendent for a three-year term beginning in July 2011.

Ms. Cappucci also acknowledged the pending retirements of two administrators, effective in the spring: Deborah Allen, assistant superintendent of elementary education, who has been with the district for 26 years, and Connie Lewis, director of special education, who has worked at Mt. Lebanon for 14 years.

* Four district policy revisions were approved by the board, including the first change to the nondiscrimination policy in nearly two decades.

The new wording includes gay, transgender, pregnant and English-learning students and staff members. The version of the policy dating from 1995 cites "nondiscrimination on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, color, national origin, handicap or disability."

"We wanted to make the change because it's the right thing to do," said board member Jo Posti, who extended an apology "for not revising sooner."

Another revised policy pertains to "homeless students," those who do not have a permanent home, allowing them to continue their education in Mt. Lebanon. The other policies address hazing, and the prohibition of corporal punishment and permitted use of reasonable force.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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