The top three suggestions from Poudre School District residents asked how the district should handle start-of-school heat include giving 48-hour notice for heat-related early release days, starting school in September and installing cooling systems in all buildings.
The results, posted on the district’s web site Thursday night, included nearly 6,000 responses from district staff and community members. The survey comes after a pilot “heat days” program in which the district’s elementary and middle school students were released two hours early for the first two weeks of school. Unlike in 2013, when there were several scorching days, the first two weeks this year weren’t particularly hot.
While some parents were frustrated with the two weeks of early release days because it was inconvenient, district officials noted that in previous surveys parents had clearly stated that last-minute school cancellations or early release days were unpopular because they wanted more time to plan.
Poudre isn’t the only district in the state to struggle with high temperatures at the start of school. Pueblo City Schools pushed back its start date to after Labor Day this year to help deal with sweltering temperatures. Many other districts, including Aurora and Adams 12, have air-conditioning in all schools. In Poudre, just nine of 50 buildings have cooling systems.
Danielle Clark, the district’s director of communications, said in an August interview that it would cost several hundred thousand dollars just to determine the cost of installing cooling systems in all district buildings.
”Air conditioning in northern Colorado is just not the norm,” she said.
The district will hold community meetings on Oct. 23 and 24 to discuss the top options.