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With Lack Of Air Conditioning In Schools, DPS Tries To Beat The Heat

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A large fan at Brown International Academy (credit: CBS)

A large fan at Brown International Academy (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – We like to teach children that “school is cool,” but when temperatures are in the 90s in Denver, that’s a hard sell.

Nearly half of the schools do not have air conditioning in the Denver Public Schools system. This year the district is trying to beat the heat and has gotten creative in trying to keep things cool.

The blinds are closed, the windows cracked and the lights are off unless needed. Students are encouraged to fill their water bottles early and often. First-graders at Brown International Academy sit in classes without air conditioning. Across town the older students at East High School say they’re suffering.

“You get hot, you get sweaty, you get sticky, and the seats are uncomfortable,” an East High student said.

“We’re all pretty much burning alive in there,” another student said.

Blame temperatures in the 90s and aging buildings. Nearly half of Denver’s schools were built before 1970 — that’s 88 schools without air conditioning.

“It’s very uncomfortable; it makes it a very difficult learning environment,” a teacher said.

The district is now dedicating $25 million of a successful bond issue to try to keep things cool. Brown International is one of 15 schools that got big fans this summer and a new ventilation system was installed that works like an attic fan.

“About 10 p.m. we have this come on at 100 percent, so we the have cooling being brought into the school until about 7 a.m.,” Ed Huszcza with Denver Public Schools said.

They’ve also added small swamp coolers in some spaces.

“Short of adding chilled air to the school, which would be very expensive to do, I think it’s doing pretty good,” Huszcza said.

If fans and fluids just aren’t enough, principals can call early release days with just 24 hours’ notice. It’s a potential hassle for many parents, but school officials say safety comes first.

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