When the half-penny school sales tax referendum passed in Hillsborough County last year, the promise was that aged roofs and floors and playgrounds would be repaired, athletic tracks would be repaved and classrooms and fire evacuation systems being upgraded, just to name just a few much-needed enhancements.

But, what got Wharton High’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) president Kristie Scism most excited was much cooler than all those things.

“The air conditioning,” Scism says. “It may not be the best thing, but it was the one thing I was most excited about.”

Hillsborough County Public Schools announced last week that teams of workers have begun moving into the 21 schools that will receive an overhaul or replacement of their existing AC systems.

While every school in New Tampa except for Hunter’s Green and Tampa Palms elementaries is scheduled to get upgraded AC in years 1-5 of the school tax referendum, only Wharton High, Benito Middle School and Clark Elementary are among the 21 schools having the work done this summer.

Over the next 10 years, funds from the half-penny sales tax are expected to overhaul or replace the A/C systems at 203 schools, or about 20 each summer.

“It’s pretty miserable when the A/C breaks,” Scism said, adding that it has been an all-too common occurrence at Wharton. “It gets to be like a sauna in some rooms. It’s very hard (for students) to concentrate in those conditions.”

Intermittent air conditioning at times has also been a complaint of parents and teachers at Benito and Clark for years. 

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