Cooling schools dilemma heats up as 90-degree days near - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Cooling schools dilemma heats up as 90-degree days near

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Air conditioners certainly aren't too cool for school, but getting them inside metro classrooms won't come cheap. With another heat wave rolling over the horizon, many schools are facing a dilemma.

Just last week, 27 schools in Minneapolis closed their doors following a protest from students and staff demanding "schools not sweatshops."

"I'd say it felt like Armageddon," sophomore Corshala King told FOX 9 News.

For some students, already seems like hell on Earth. Last week in Minneapolis, it certainly felt that way in sweltering rooms where temperatures topped out near the triple digits.

"Kid's couldn't focus. Kids couldn't come to school, it was that hot," King continued.

Southwest High School is among the schools without air conditioning that saw classes canceled by Minneapolis Public Schools on both Thursday and Friday.

"It was pretty awful. Students' morale was pretty low," senior Leah Gross explained. "People were just sleepy, subdued. Everyone was unhappy."

Since then, the strategy to keep students cool has been a hot topic. The district delivered fans, bottled water, and even ice and Popsicles to students hit hardest by last week's excessive heat. With temperatures expected to top 90 once more by the end of the week, officials are expecting more of the same.

"We should treat that as a snow day, and if we have to make it up, that's important instead of sending these kids to school when it's 80 to 100 degrees," parent Amanda Keuhn said.

District officials do not plan to have students make up the days from last week, but it's still unclear hat may happen if more days are missed.

According to Minneapolis Public Schools, it would cost more than $300 million to retrofit the entire district with air conditioning; however, there may be cheaper alternatives. At Concord Elementary in Edina, a new ventilation and dehumidification system is being installed at a fraction of the cost of central air.

The students who spoke to FOX 9 News say they already feel like they've been to hell and back, and they're not eager for a repeat performance by Mother Nature -- but parents also aren't keen on seeing property taxes increase for AC.

"If they are going to spend the money, I'd rather see them reduce class size or upgrade athletic facilities or energy efficiencies or something like that," George Puzak.

The Minneapolis Teacher's Federation said it would be in favor of moving the start of school back to after Labor Day if the district can't put air conditioning in all schools, but it also wants to build heat days into the school year to make sure students and staff can stay safe from heat-related illness.

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