By Makenzie O'Keefe

DENVER (CBS4) – Students in Denver Public Schools are back in the classroom, but for many their first day of school also brought sweltering heat. Nearly 60 schools in the district don’t have air conditioning, leaving students and staff searching for creative solutions.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s like 10,000 degrees,” said 8-year-old Qua’dre Walker.

Walker is a student at Stedman Elementary School. The school, built in 1922, does not have central air conditioning. So with temperatures hitting the high 90s on Monday, classrooms were hot.

“It just gets hotter and hotter throughout the day,” explained Deborah Sims-Fard, a second grade teacher at the school.

With nearly 60 schools lacking adequate cooling across the district, officials say they are always investigating and investing ways to improve the situation. According to DPS’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Ferrandino, installing air conditioning in every school would cost around $200 million.

“It’s a difficult thing, but something we will continue working on and investing on,” Ferrandino explained. “We are continuing to make investments.”

(credit: CBS)

Ferrandino said they are talking about the possibility of turning to voters in 2020 for a bond measure that would help fund air conditioning in some schools. They also are exploring the idea of pushing the start date back of next year’s school year.

The principal of Stedman Elementary, Michael Atkins, said he hopes the city can come together to find a solution.

“To be in an environment that is cooled adequately so they can learn I think is the greatest hope,” Atkins said.

(credit: CBS)

While a permanent solution is being discussed, teachers are trying to be creative with their solutions. Nearly every classroom has multiple fans. Some teachers are turning out the lights and pulling the blinds to help keep the room temperatures lower.

“There is no question that when the classroom is hot, with all of the bodies in the classroom, it does have impact.,” explained Sims-Fard. “there is a little sluggishness from time to time, and attention. Getting their attention is a little more challenging.”

Makenzie O'Keefe


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