Moapa Valley students beg parents to pick them up amid classroom A/C issues and excessive heat

The Nevada desert’s excessive heat warning is having a harsh impact on communities like Moapa Valley, with temperatures in Overton slated to reach 115 degrees.
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 8:19 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Nevada desert’s excessive heat warning this week is having a harsh impact on communities like Moapa Valley, with temperatures in Overton slated to reach 115 degrees on Wednesday alone. But an out-of-order air conditioner in a middle school in Overton is leaving students in desperation, and parents outraged with the district’s response.

According to Mack Lyon Middle School parents, Principal Jaydel Wilson sent an email to families Thursday saying Clark County School District’s facilities personnel have been working to determine what is causing the school’s HVAC issues and advising students to dress appropriately and drink extra water.

That principal followed up with families Tuesday afternoon saying crews are currently on site to try and fix the HVAC system. He also told parents that on Wednesday, staff will be monitoring classroom temperatures and will move students to Moapa Valley High School if internal temps get too hot.

Meanwhile, one mother is fed up with how she feels they are handling this issue.

“My son told me, he said, it feels like it’s in the 90s in the classroom,” said Kat Lounsbury. “I’m not gonna make my kids sit in a hot classroom all day... They’re not gonna learn anything. They’re gonna be thinking more about the fact that it’s so hot.”

Lounsbury said she is pulling her 7th and 8th grader out of school for the rest of the week.

“We should automatically have something go out as a plan for distance learning,” said Lounsbury. “Now we have to go through the make-up work, and explaining why my kid was absent, and everything else that goes along with that.”

She also said an offer has not been presented for distance learning.

Former principal of Mack Lyon Middle School, Kenneth Paul, said a decision like that would need to come from Superintendent Jesus Jara. FOX5 reached out twice to CCSD Communications about this Tuesday, but as of this publishing date, they could not be reached.

Paul, who retired after last school year, said he served as principal when Mack Lyon’s new HVAC system got installed. He said he thinks he knows what the issue is: he said it has to do with the build-up in the system’s water tower from the hard water, and the fact that they’re rural.

“You don’t have regular maintenance coming from Vegas,” said Paul. He said that means the filter gets clogged.

He also said that bureaucracy makes it so principals cannot control the HVAC systems in their own schools “to get somebody to clean those out.”

“You’ve got hot teachers and hot students right then-- we’re not able to call someone, have them come down there, and get it done,” said Paul. “They’re gonna be coming from Vegas. That system is very slow.”

In school precincts that are as far away from the Vegas central office as they are in Overton, he said they often have to wait, which prolongs the heat hazard at hand.

“In your experience do you feel that if you were able to reach out to people who were in your community, you would have been able to fix issues faster?” asked FOX5.

“I do believe that our hands are tied a lot of times.”

At the end of next month, the state legislative committee will vote to approve a compliance monitor that will work on behalf of the Nevada Department of Education to assist the admin with site-based power struggles like this.

For example, if Overton residents do not like the service they are getting from the centralized Vegas office on an issue like HVAC, and feel like they want to go with an outside vendor who is more local to them, a compliance officer could come in and settle the dispute.

FOX5 will be sure to cover that September 27 meeting on whether a compliance monitor is approved for these matters.