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Newport-Mesa plans $25 million in contracts to install air conditioning at 7 schools this summer

Newport-Mesa plans $25 million in contracts to install air conditioning at 7 schools this summer
First-graders at Harbor View Elementary School in Corona del Mar follow yoga instruction in 2016. Harbor View is one of seven Newport-Mesa Unified School District campuses scheduled to receive air conditioning this summer. (File Photo)

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District plans to advertise more than $25 million in contracts to install new heating, cooling and ventilation units at seven schools following trustees’ unanimous approval Tuesday night.

Newport, Newport Heights, Harbor View, Mariners and Whittier elementary schools and Ensign Intermediate and Back Bay/Monte Vista High schools are slated for the work this summer.

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District Assistant Supt. and Chief Operating Officer Timothy Holcomb will choose the “lowest, responsible, qualified bidder,” with contract ratification at a future board meeting.

If Newport-Mesa meets its goal by summer, all of its 32 schools will have air conditioning units, potentially ending years of criticism from some parents and teachers who urged trustees to speed up the process and implement minimum-day school schedules during heat waves.

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Six sites — Davis Magnet and College Park, Wilson, Pomona, Kaiser and Woodland Elementary schools — received air conditioning last summer.

The majority of the district’s schools are not completely air conditioned because they were built before air conditioning was widely used. However, district officials have said many schools have air-conditioned spaces.

Costa Mesa and Newport Harbor high schools, which currently have partial air conditioning, are slated for completion in 2021 because those sites require “major installations,” district officials said.

Britt Dowdy, president of the district teachers union, said in an interview Tuesday that the union is “looking forward to having more A/C in place for children, educators and support staff next school year.”

Dowdy said it will create a “better learning environment.”

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