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Pasco’s Cotee River Elementary enters third day without air conditioning

A leaky pipe appears to be to blame.
Cotee River Elementary School in Pasco County.
Cotee River Elementary School in Pasco County. [ Pasco County School District ]
Published Aug. 21, 2019

Students at Pasco County’s Cotee River Elementary School are enduring a third day of discomfort as their classrooms have no air conditioning and temperatures hover near 90 degrees.

The school district has added floor fans and some portable air conditioning units to the campus, to keep the air circulating. Officials said the buildings are habitable, and they have no plans to cancel classes while awaiting repairs.

Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said maintenance have been working “non-stop” to fix the problem. But they have run into obstacles.

It appears that a leak in the system’s piping is the primary issue, she said. But its location, combined with rain, has made access to the leak difficult.

“They are working to get it repaired, and then make sure there aren’t any others,” Cobbe said.

At least one parent raised concerns that the environment was not acceptable for the students.

“We are worried about the safety and health of the students and staff, as temps have reached into the 90s outside and close to that in the schools with little airflow,” parent Kenneth Leonard said via email.

Teacher Gerri Spear, meanwhile, suggested that everyone is getting by as best they can.

“When life gives you lemons, Cotee River scholars make lemonade!” Spear said in an email.

The district did not have an estimate of when the work would be completed. It has had chillers or units fail in the past, but the stoppage of an entire school’s air conditioning is rare.