By LESLIE COLLINS
August 15, 2012
Record heat has hit Kansas City this year, and two Kansas City Public Schools must endure the sweltering heat without air conditioning.
Both Northeast High School and East High School will start the school year without air conditioning and aren’t expected to receive an upgrade until the fall of 2013.
Asked why both schools still lack air conditioning, KCPS Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Al Tunis cited the buildings’ age. NEHS was built in 1914 and East High School opened its doors in 1925.
“Part of the problem we have is that there’s not enough electrical power that comes into the building to even turn the air conditioning on, so our problem is compounded,” Tunis said.
To install air conditioning, KCPS must first upgrade the electrical system at both schools.
KCPS plans to call for project bids this week with work to begin in the evenings and during breaks. Both schools would have fully functioning air conditioning by the fall of 2013, he said.
“We’re hopeful for some cooperation from Mother Nature,” Tunis said of the upcoming weeks.
Regardless of whether or not Mother Nature cooperates, KCPS has a plan in place.
If the school buildings reach an unreasonable temperature inside, the school day for NEHS and EHS will start at 7:20 a.m. and end at
10:50 a.m. To be considered an official school day, students must be in school for three hours, Tunis said.
During early release days, students will still receive a lunch, he said.
KCPS officials will measure the temperature inside the building and look at weekly forecasts and overnight temperatures to determine if school will release early. KCPS officials will make a decision the night before to allow parents and guardians time to plan appropriately.
“It’s not an easy decision because we know it affects so many families; it changes their plans,” Tunis said.
If extreme heat forces the schools to let out early for several days in a row, KCPS will rotate class schedules, so students can receive instruction time in each class.
If an early release day is planned for NEHS or EHS, KCPS will notify local television stations and conduct “phone blasts.” In addition, information will be posted on the school district’s website, www.kcpublicschools.org, and on the homepages of NEHS and EHS. To view individual school websites, visit www.kcpublicschools.org, click on the “Schools” tab and select Northeast High School or East High School.