Education Funding

Thermostats Drop; Questions Raised

By Laura Greifner — February 14, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s now clear that schools in Vermont have leeway in deciding where to set their thermostats, after some confusion over state policy on just how hot, or cold, a classroom should be.

Robert J. Reardon, the principal of Essex High School in Essex Junction, was trying to cut energy costs late last fall. The school thermostats are normally set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, and he decided to perform a one-week trial, lowering it to 65. He notified students and parents that the change would take effect the week students returned from winter break. That week, he walked to different areas of the 35-year-old building and evaluated the temperatures.

“When we got back that first week, there were some cold spots,” Mr. Reardon recounted in an interview last week. “We asked teachers: ‘If you’re feeling unusually cold, please let us know. If you’re feeling unusually hot, please let us know.’ ”

As a result of testing the temperature and listening to staff feedback, the administration raised the temperature in one area of the building.

Mr. Reardon said he never heard any complaints about the cold from students or parents.

Then, at the end of January, a reporter from TheBurlington Free Press visited the 1,583-student school to write a story about the cooler settings. The night before the story ran prominently in the newspaper, according to Mr. Reardon, the reporter called to inform him that the school was in violation of state regulations, which she said required school thermostats to be set at 68 degrees or higher.

That interpretation turned out to be wrong. According to Jill G. Remick, a spokeswoman for the Vermont Department of Education, the state does not have temperature standards for schools. The “regulation” in question was actually a recommendation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration advocating an indoor school temperature of 68 to 76 degrees. The newspaper published a correction Feb. 5.

“It’s something that comes up quite a bit here,” Ms. Remick said. “As long as the students are able to learn and the teachers don’t feel it’s extreme, we don’t see a need to have formal regulations.”

Mr. Reardon, who sets the thermostat in his office at 62 degrees, will review heating bills to see how much his school is saving.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Pave the Path to Excellence in Math
Empower your students' math journey with Sue O'Connell, author of “Math in Practice” and “Navigating Numeracy.”
Content provided by hand2mind
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Combatting Teacher Shortages: Strategies for Classroom Balance and Learning Success
Learn from leaders in education as they share insights and strategies to support teachers and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Reading Instruction and AI: New Strategies for the Big Education Challenges of Our Time
Join the conversation as experts in the field explore these instructional pain points and offer game-changing guidance for K-12 leaders and educators.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Do K-12 Students Have a Right to Well-Funded School Buildings?
The answer in a recent state court case wasn't exactly a "yes." But it also wasn't a "no." Here's what could happen next.
5 min read
Image of an excavator in front of a school building.
Education Funding Explainer 3 Steps to Keep Tutoring Going When ESSER Money Runs Out
Schools may lose more than $1,200 per student as enrollment falls and federal COVID relief funds expire next year.
4 min read
Illustration of a dollar sign falling over a cliff.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Education Funding Opinion Foundations Have Given Money to Schools for a Long Time. What's Actually Working?
Investments in one key area seem to be making a difference when it comes to improving schools.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Education Funding Opinion Education Funders Need to Ditch the Savior Complex
Trust in the input from teachers, staff, community, and students will go a long way toward making initiatives successful.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."