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Debate Over School Start Date Heats Up

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Stacy Smith talks with CBS4's Michelle Griego. (credit: CBS)

Stacy Smith talks with CBS4’s Michelle Griego. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- A mother of a student who attends Denver Public Schools is taking her fight against hot classrooms to the school board.

Stacy Smith has the backing of thousands of other parents as she tries to convince district leaders to move the start date for fall.

“I’m looking for an immediate economical solution and changing the school year is just common sense,” said Smith as she addressed the Denver Board of Education.

“At the end of each day my son was physically ruined. He was drenched in sweat, he was red faced, he was irritable,” said Smith.

This year’s August was the hottest recorded in history for Colorado. Smith’s 6-year-old sat in a hot classroom at Brown Elementary, and told his mother he didn’t want to go to school anymore.

“When I asked him why, he said because school made him sick,” said Smith.

That’s when Smith started a petition to change the school calendar. Instead of the end of August, she’s demanding school to start after Labor Day.

“I’m equally open to starting earlier or later and that’s a decision that our families need to make,” said Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

Smith gathered about 3,500 signatures agreeing with the change. At that board meeting, many members agreed it is a good idea, especially since half of the schools don’t have air conditioning.

“When you pull kids out of the middle of the summer and put them into classrooms and have them sitting in the heat, they’re miserable,” said Smith.

Starting later would force high school students to take finals after Winter Break and sporting events would start later, but Smith said safety should be first.

It could cost the district about $380 million to put air conditioning in the buildings that don’t have it. Smith said to avoid the cost, it’s common sense to start later.

The board could make a decision by January.

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