Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

New heating, AC coming to classrooms


The Palo Alto Unified School District School Board will install heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, or HVAC, in every PAUSD campus by 2026, according to the Oct. 11 board meeting.

According to Board of Education Vice President Jennifer DiBrienza, PAUSD’s Board Bond Advisory Committee (which consists of board members, teachers and staff, and parents) first recommended that all of PAUSD sites be outfitted with HVAC in February 2021. 

“Plans were paused during the pandemic because of all of the various needs due to the pandemic … [but] are starting up again,” DiBrienza said.

The school board agenda cited the extreme heatwave this fall as an inciting factor in their decision. As winter brings steadily dropping temperatures, students have expressed their frustration with the lack of infrastructure. 

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“Almost every elementary school and most classrooms at the middle schools [don’t have functional HVAC].

Eric Holm, PAUSD Director of Facility and Construction

“There’s a single miniature AC unit in the robotics lab, and since we have [late hours] and our season is in the winter, it gets really cold and difficult to work,” Palo Alto High School senior Dalia Antebi said. “It negatively impacts our learning when it’s too hot or too cold, so I would like it if HVAC worked in all classrooms equitably.”

However, according to PAUSD’s Director of Facility and Construction Eric Holm, the distribution of already existing HVAC systems disproportionately neglects younger students.

“Almost every elementary school and most classrooms at the middle schools [don’t have functional HVAC],” Holm said. “Most high school classrooms [do], with the exception of a few remaining rooms.”

 The current plan will replace all old gas heaters at the elementary and middle schools with electric heat and AC and be completed across all school sites in the summer of 2026, with a forecasted budget of over $34 million.