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FILLMORE : Promise of Fans Cools Sickout Threat

Fillmore teachers backed down on their threat to stage a sickout this week after the school district offered to distribute electric fans to combat classroom temperatures in the high 90s, and shorten the school day during extremely hot weather.

At a meeting Wednesday with Supt. Mario Contini, teachers demanded that the administration take action to improve working conditions in the district, where many classrooms are not air-conditioned, said Mary Ford, president of the Fillmore Unified Teachers Assn.

“It was 96 degrees in one teacher’s algebra class,” Ford said. “It’s ridiculous to expect anyone to learn algebra, or anything else for that matter, in conditions like that.”

School begins in early August for the district’s year-round schedule.

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At San Cayetano Elementary School, Principal Karen Cooksey said she was rotating classes into the air-conditioned school library every 30 minutes to cope with the sweltering heat.

Mark Riley, an English teacher at Fillmore High School, said he resorted to taking a sponge bath at lunch time and standing in front of a large fan through most of his classes.

But Riley said after Wednesday’s meeting with school district personnel that he was convinced a solution to the problem has been found. “I would say we have a big happy ending, or maybe a big, happy midpoint to the story,” he said.

In addition to distributing fans and working on a policy to shorten the school day when temperatures exceed 95 degrees, the district will set aside money to buy air conditioning for the high school, Riley said. “We know that money isn’t just sitting around somewhere so it might not happen anytime soon,” Riley said. “But the district is saying the right things.”

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Students in the high school had discussed walking out during classes Thursday in protest, but Riley said the administration’s promises stopped the walkout.


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