Education Funding

Thermostats Drop; Questions Raised

By Laura Greifner — February 14, 2006 1 min read

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.
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
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.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

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 States Are Waffling Over Billions in K-12 Federal Relief. Schools Are Getting Antsy.
Schools in some states have already started spending money from recent federal stimulus packages. Others don’t yet have the dollars in hand.
6 min read
Conceptual image of money dropping into a jar.
Education Funding Opinion The COVID-19 Stimulus Money Won’t Last Forever. Here’s What's Next for Schools
There are three important first steps for states to start helping schools prepare now, write two policy experts.
Zahava Stadler & Victoria Jackson
5 min read
a group of people water a lightbulb plant, nurturing an idea
iStock/Getty Images
Education Funding Opinion What Ed. Leaders Can Learn From a Wildfire About Spending $129 Billion in Federal Funds
There are five entrenched routines that leaders should reject to forge a better path forward after the pandemic.
Kristen McQuillan
4 min read
Firefighters fighting fire
Education Funding Opinion Does Place-Based Giving Make It Harder for Funders to Get Reliable Feedback?
Big donors can be lulled into underestimating the financial, political, and information constraints of place-based philanthropy.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty