BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than two dozen Baltimore City Schools currently do not have air conditioning and on some of the hotter days, those schools are forced to close or let out early.

When temperatures inch into the 90s, a number of Baltimore City Schools dismiss early because they don’t have air conditioning or the units aren’t working well.

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“The biggest part of the challenge is having access to resources to consistently replace systems in the portfolio,” said Lynette Washington, Chief Operating Officer for Baltimore City Schools.

Chief Operating Officer Lynette Washington said every year, the district gets about $50 million from the city and state for school construction and installing a brand-new HVAC system comes at a hefty cost.  The cost totals anywhere between $15 to $20 million depending on the school’s square footage.

Over the last five years, the school system has installed vertical packaging units to keep individual classrooms cool.

“As we are bringing new systems online, we are always thinking about, how are we going to replace our existing systems that are already operating?” said Washington.

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Of the 24 schools with AC, 10 are now under construction, six are in design and four are in planning to receive upgrades — most of which is expected to be complete within the next three years.

As part of Maryland’s Build to Learn Act, the district is getting additional funding to build new schools to replace old ones including those with outdated HVAC systems.

The teacher’s union and Baltimore parents said it is crucial for student success.

“I would like to see the school system make updating and replacing its air conditioner units a priority,” said Diamonte Brown, President of Baltimore City Teacher’s Union.

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“How can they learn if they constantly have to focus on getting cool? or being hot? Man, I want to drink, they can’t focus on their learning,” said Denishia Demonia, parent.

Rachel Menitoff