Columbus High School, as an institution, started 129 years ago, but the current main building is only 36 years old. Still, the new school year has begun with facility problems causing concern among students, staff and parents.
Tuesday, the day after Muscogee County School District officials received questions about Columbus High’s air-conditioning, another issue surfaced: a foul odor coming from one of the boys restrooms.
“The drain was clogged and is currently being serviced,” MCSD communications director Mercedes Parham told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email.
The clog also caused complaints about the water fountains not working properly.
“There is no water coming out of the pipes,” Parham said. “The aforementioned clogged pipe is connected to the water fountains. As mentioned, it is currently being serviced for repairs.”
Monday, the complaints were about the air-conditioning.
The problem is that the school’s HVAC system didn’t cool off the building after the thermostat was turned way up to save energy during the weekend, the first one in the 2019-20 school year, said MCSD operations chief David Goldberg. The newer buildings in the district don’t have this trouble, he said.
The thermostat at MCSD schools is turned up from 68 degrees to 85 degrees for Saturdays and Sundays in air-conditioning season.
“Just like if you go on vacation,” Goldberg told the L-E on Monday night.
Monday’s high temperature in Columbus, according to the National Weather Service, was 97 degrees, with the heat index indicating it felt like 107 degrees.
“It was so hot,” he said. “Columbus High School did not recover, because it’s an old school and the insulation isn’t that great. . . . The hottest room we saw on our monitors was 76.”
To compensate, Goldberg said, instead of turning the thermostat up after school hours Monday as MCSD usually does district-wide, the air-conditioning was left running all night at Columbus High.
“It’ll be cooled off and back to where it should be,” he said.
A wing at Jordan Vocational High School has a similar problem, Goldberg said.
By 1:12 p.m. Tuesday, Parham told the L-E that Columbus High had cooled off. But late Tuesday afternoon, the school’s administration wrote in its explanation to parents that the air-conditioning problem wasn’t completely solved.
“The issue which caused unfavorable conditions with our air conditioning system yesterday was resolved as of this morning,” the statement says. “Within the last hour, we have begun to experience some cooling issues in specific classrooms as well as a plumbing issue on the bottom floor. At this time, we are making adjustments within the building to accommodate students’ needs in this matter. The system is currently being reviewed by our plant services and facilities team. Repairs and/or adjustments are in progress. We will be sure to keep you informed as we gain further details.”
Cooler weather is expected toward the end of the week and into next week, with highs in the low 90s.