Denver schools with no AC hit 90 degrees inside classrooms

DENVER -- Denver hit 99 degrees Monday, breaking the previous record high for Aug. 19 of 97. The heat made for a sweltering first day of school for Denver Public Schools students, especially because 60 DPS schools do not have air conditioning.

In some classrooms at Stedman Elementary School in Park Hill, the blinds were closed, the lights were off and the fans were running.

Stedman was built in the 1920s and is one of the 60 DPS schools with no AC.

A temperature gauge showed 90.7 degrees inside a classroom.

“It’s like 10,000 degrees,” said one student.

“We are all annoyed because we want air conditioning,” said another.

The school has portable swamp coolers and some teachers buy their own classroom AC units, but it’s a tough situation.

“It does have impact, and so there is a little sluggishness from time to time. And attention -- keeping their attention is a little bit more challenging,” said teacher Deborah Sims Fard.

She wonders if a later start date would be better if they can’t get AC.

District officials say it would cost about $200 million to put AC in all 60 schools, about $3-$4 million per school.

“It’s definitely a concern the district has of: How do we ensure that kids are in cool environments as they are learning?" said Mark Ferrandino, the deputy superintendent of operations.

The district is now discussing whether to go back to voters in 2020 and ask for more funding.

Elsewhere in the metro area, all 91 schools in the Douglas County School District are equipped with AC. All 13 Adams County School District 14 schools have AC as well. Out of 155 Jeffco Public Schools, all but 14 have AC.

“Our average building, I think, is around 65 years old for DPS, which is older than a lot of neighboring districts,” said Ferrandino.

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