Deteriorating HC building causes class interruptions


Evie Smith

The HC halls emptied after staff and students leave the building.

Cameron Ellis, Reporter

It is no question that the state of our Henry Clay building is deteriorating. On Thursday, March 10th a suspicious aroma filled the upstairs green and orange hallways. The HC staff took action immediately, searching for the smell. As it started to fill the hallways, it became clear that there was a serious issue.

“Thursday, March 10th I walked into [my classroom] at 8:00 am and smelled it,” HC math teacher Michelle Samet said. “It wasn’t intense by that point, but I definitely noticed something. It almost smelled like dust burning.” 

This smell worsened as time continued. By third hour, the scent in some classrooms was so unbearable that teachers had to leave their rooms and continue instruction in a different location. Some HC teachers used available rooms during other teacher’s planning hours to continue instruction, while others went outside. 

“When we first relocated, my third hour was supposed to take a test the next day, so we were supposed to be reviewing,” Samet said. “We decided to go outside because at the time I couldn’t even think about who had a planning period that I could go steal their classroom from. We did some review on whiteboards in the bleachers, but it was kind of a disaster.”

As the day came to an end, many teachers had settled into their new classrooms and adjusted to the change in schedule. It was later announced that the smell was caused from the roof being patched with tar the day before. The tar was placed right above the building’s HVAC system, which resulted in the chemicals of the tar being pumped into the hallways. The smell was thought to have gone away, but the aroma came back again on March 17. Samet had to move rooms again to avoid further issues.

“The following Thursday, we had to do something again,” Samet said. “So they [admin] are still dealing with it. It was just extra challenging because there are things I have created in my setups here [in my classroom]. I have extra Chromebook chargers, I have outlets with extension cords for people that need to charge their computers and a lot of other things.” 

Throughout the school year, the HVAC system at HC has had many problems, with many classrooms either frigid or scorching. These issues with the HVAC system were addressed in Superintendent Demetrus Liggins’ email as he announced some welcome news.

Last night, our Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously to award a nearly $6.8 million contract to LAGCO for the replacement of the HVAC units at Henry Clay,” Liggins said. “The project includes the replacement of all existing rooftop units that feed the majority of the building, as well as the existing split system air handling units that service the locker rooms, gymnasium, and kitchen.”

The new HVAC system is planned to be installed over the summer in hopes of fixing HC’s heat and air conditioning concerns.