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Fashion High School Raising $100K For Air Conditioning Amid 'Stifling' Heat

By Maya Rajamani | January 5, 2017 3:58pm
 The High School of Fashion Industries is raising money to buy air conditioners for its classrooms.
Fashion Industries High School
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CHELSEA — A fashion-focused public school where sewing machines are fixtures in the classroom wants to combat the “unbearable” heat the machines produce during the warmer months.

Only 23 of the 91 classrooms at the High School of Fashion Industries at 225 W. 24th Street have air-conditioning units, according to a GoFundMe page launched on Jan. 1.

The school — which combines traditional academics with a range of fashion, illustration and merchandising classes — hopes to raise $100,000 to install new air conditioners and to provide for electrical upgrades.

“When, in a typical fashion design room, we run 30 sewing machines, it becomes unbearable,” the fundraising page reads. “Our goal is to get air conditioning in every classroom... so our students can learn in comfort and not oppressive, stifling heat and humidity in May, June and during our summer session.”

Fashion Industries recently installed central AC in its cafeteria and main office, but having cool air in all its classrooms would be a “breathtaking milestone,” Principal Daryl Blank told DNAinfo New York.

“As a principal, you worry about every student, and you worry about every staff member,” Blank said. “You would just feel good that, on any given day, all of them would be in a comfortable learning and working space.”

Each air conditioning unit would cost a total of $2,200, including $1,000 for the electrical upgrades needed for installation, the fundraising page notes.

Department of Education spokeswoman Toya Holness said on Thursday that the department is "dedicated to providing students with a comfortable learning environment in every school building," but did not say whether it planned to provide additional air conditioners at Fashion Industries.

The city can allocate money for electrical upgrades needed to install air conditioning, but doesn't allocate money to actually purchase the air conditioners.

"Nearly all — approximately 95 percent — of school buildings have air conditioning in all or some instructional spaces, and we work closely with schools to keep rooms cool during the warmer months and ensure that water is readily available," Holness said. "When selecting summer school sites, we prioritize classrooms with air conditioning."

The school had raised $4,435 of it $100,000 goal as of Wednesday evening, with a deadline of March 31. An anonymous donor has promised to match any donations the school receives up to $50,000, meaning the school will be able to meet its goal if it raises just half of what it asked for, Blank said.

“With the rigor of our academic classes and… the rigor of our fashion-design classes, [staying cool] should not be what they [are] concentrating on,” he said.

“It would be an incredible sort of accomplishment, in terms of the whole community pulling together, to reach that goal.”