TUSD facilities team prepping classrooms, fixing HVAC issues for the new school year

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – This week, students in southern Arizona’s largest school district are heading back to the classroom.

During the summer break, some of Tucson Unified School District’s facilities got some much-needed work.

TUSD’s first day is Thursday and officials said there are some changes that have been made on the facilities team to make students and staff safer.

“The whole idea is to make support easy for our school campuses so that they can really focus on instruction and getting their kids and teachers settled in, and engaging families that might be new to the district,” said TUSD Chief Operations Officer Blaine Young.

Students and staff will be returning during one of the hottest months of the year, and this puts a lot of pressure on the HVAC systems.

There was a big issue in previous years that left students and teachers to work in the heat without air conditioning.

The facilities team said staffing was a major factor.

“With lack of sufficient numbers of technicians to address the issues, we’re trying to do the best that we could with the staff that we had and that’s why we felt that it was important that we needed to engage other resources in order to react quicker,” said Greg Meier, director of facility maintenance.

TUSD has hired four additional preventative maintenance technicians for the HVAC department specifically. They’re also putting a command center in place to help facilitate high-priority problems like HVAC issues.

“We have now put in a decision tree for incoming HVAC work orders,” Meier said. “So the decision tree that we’ve developed helps us determine if we can address an incoming work order internally or if we need to send it to a supplementary contractor.”

On top of that, they’re also assigning teams to go out on a quarterly basis to replace air filters and check for any other issues. To get ready for the new school year, they’ve done temperature audits through all the classrooms.

“We did an actual site walk, a temperature audit of the classrooms to see what things actually looked like so we can determine if there’s anything that needs immediate attention now before school starts,” said TUSD mechanical manager Aaron Canez.

The team said there may be a couple of units that need some work, but there are no school sites that are completely without AC.

TUSD said they are also working toward replacing some of the HVAC units with new ones as funds are available.

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