News - DeKalb County

DeKalb District 428 uses $5M in COVID relief funds for new air conditioning at Huntley Middle School

James Orr, with DeKalb School District 428 maintenance, talks Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, about the features inside of one of the new air conditioning units on the roof of Huntley Middle School.

DeKALB – Several new spots inside Huntley Middle School have air conditioning for the first time, after DeKalb School District 428 officials greenlit a plan to earmark $5 million in pandemic-era relief funds for the upgrades.

Recently, the district had air conditioning units installed in portions of the building for the first time.

It was all made possible due in part to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds that the DeKalb district received from the state to help fund the project.

Tammy Carson, the district’s director of facility and safety operations, said it’s not the first time the district used pandemic relief funds for that purpose.

Bringing on line new air conditioning units as part of summer projects at Huntley Middle School came with a $5 million price tag, paid for using DeKalb District 428′s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding from the state.

Carson said the district may have proceeded more slowly in upgrading the building’s HVAC units had it not been for the funds.

“We would probably not have moved forward with the project at that dollar level, all within one summer,” Carson said. “We would’ve had to spread it out over time because we would not have had the operating and maintenance funds to be able to do that level, that dollar amount of an upgrade all within one year because we also did another $5 million at other buildings last summer for HVAC upgrades using ESSER funds.”

Carson said it made sense on multiple levels for the district to pursue the HVAC upgrades using COVID-19 relief monies.

“There were several units that were installed that added air conditioning to several of our areas, as well, as upgraded equipment that was at the end of life,” Carson said.

Larger areas in the school building, such as the gymnasium, cafeteria and locker rooms, previously did not have air conditioning.

Huntley Middle School was originally constructed in 1966, officials said. Since then, there have been four additions to the school building dating back to the mid-1990s.

Carson said the newly air conditioned spaces at Huntley Middle School go a long way in promoting good.

“Those were always uncomfortable spaces when the temperatures were high, when you had large groups in those spaces several times throughout the entire day,” Carson said. “Having that comfort of air conditioning, I’m sure is a huge benefit to that group.”