Six Port Stephens schools in first roll out of NSW Government's Cooler Classrooms Fund

ENVIRONMENT: Hunter River High School principal Deb Dibley, school captain Megan Snow, 16, Liberal candidate Jaimie Abbott, captain Dylan Eyb, 17, and Port Stephens Duty MLC Catherine Cusack. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts
ENVIRONMENT: Hunter River High School principal Deb Dibley, school captain Megan Snow, 16, Liberal candidate Jaimie Abbott, captain Dylan Eyb, 17, and Port Stephens Duty MLC Catherine Cusack. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Hunter River High School is one of six in Port Stephens that will have air conditioners installed in classrooms when the first round of the NSW Government’s Cooler Classrooms Fund is rolled out.

Principal Deb Dibley said the installation of air conditioners in the Heatherbrae school’s classrooms would provide the best possible learning environment.

“Approximately 44 classrooms are not air conditioned, eight are,” she said. “We applied to the Cooler Classrooms Fund because of how hot it does get here. This is about creating the best environment for learning for students and teachers.”

School captain Megan Snow, 16, said there was little motivation to do work in class on hot days.

“No one is motivated to do much when it’s hot. You just sit there thinking how hot it is,” she said. “And you just stick to the chairs. Doing an exam in the heat is painful, too.”

Tomaree High School and Hinton, Iona, Shoal Bay and Tomaree public schools have also been included in the first roll out of the $500 million program. 

Port Stephens Duty MLC Catherine Cusack said a number of issues has held back the government from installing air conditioning units in school classrooms and libraries in the past, the biggest being electricity pressures.

Hunter River High School captains Megan Snow, 16, and Dylan Eyb, 17, (front) with principal Deb Dibley, Catherine Cusack and Jaimie Abbott.

Hunter River High School captains Megan Snow, 16, and Dylan Eyb, 17, (front) with principal Deb Dibley, Catherine Cusack and Jaimie Abbott.

“Modern technology and advances in overcoming these electricity issues means we’re now able to install air conditioning in schools,” she said.

“We’re installing solar panels and ‘smart systems’ alongside the air conditioning units so schools can offset their additional energy use and efficiently heat and cool their schools.

“When they’re not using that power, in school holidays, it will feed back into the grid.”

Schools that have an average maximum January temperature of 30 degrees or more will automatically receive air conditioning in classrooms and libraries.

Previously, only schools with an average maximum January temperature of 33 degrees or more were had air conditioning installed.

All other schools are invited to apply when the next round of funding opens on day one of the new school term.

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