SANDWICH – After Sandwich school teachers were told they would have to pay $500 for air conditioning in their classrooms if they wanted it for the 2020-2021 school year, community members have donated enough money for 11 classrooms units within the last week.
Amber Harmon, a fifth grade teacher at Herman E. Dümmer Elementary School, initially started crowdsourcing through a July 30 Facebook post to raise enough money for six air conditioning units, which would cover the homeroom classrooms within the school building. From there, the fundraising effort grew to include trying to outfit 50 classrooms with air conditioning district-wide, she wrote in a July 30 Facebook comment.
Harmon wrote in a Facebook Messenger conversation with Record Newspapers that teachers still are working to collect money for the units for as many classrooms as possible across the district. She wrote there still are more donations coming.
"I will say that our Sandwich community has really rallied around our staff and students," Harmon wrote. "We have had a generous amount of donations from local businesses as well as community members."
One of those businesses was A&B Exteriors, a residential contractor in Sandwich. In a July 30 Facebook post, the company wrote they committed to donating enough money for six out of the 50 total units.
Tricia Kleckner, co-owner of A&B Exteriors, said she personally is friends with a lot of teachers within the local school district and her children have graduated from or are still in the district. While she didn't have the total off the top of her head, she said, there have been quite a bit of donations dropped off since the business started collecting donations to pass along to school officials.
“We’re lucky in Sandwich, because the community within Sandwich is very giving and supportive of each other in the schools,” Kleckner said.
According to the plan, students will be divided alphabetically into groups, with one group attending school in-person Mondays and Wednesdays, the second group attending school Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will be reserved for remote learning across the district.
District staff members wrote in responses to a district-wide survey they were concerned about students and staff wearing masks in the summer heat, especially for 90 degree days in late August and early September.
Harmon deferred additional comment to Sandwich School District 430 Superintendent Rick Schmitt. Schmitt was not immediately available for comment following a request for such on Thursday from Record Newspapers.
Shelly Tripp and Shane Connell, co-presidents for the Sandwich Classroom Teacher's Association teachers' union, also were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
• This story will be updated as more information becomes available.