DENVER (KDVR) – Denver Public Schools is moving closer to the goal of installing air conditioning in 24 schools. Funding is part of a $795 million bond passed by voters in 2020. Four thousand students in 11 schools now have air conditioning as the work continues.
“It’s really important to invest in public education because it is our most valuable resource,” said DPS spokesperson Giorgia Alexander.
FOX31 joined DPS on a tour of Polaris Elementary School to get an up-close look at how HPM Contracting is installing a much-needed air conditioning system.
“We want to make sure our kids stay cool so they can learn,” Alexander said.
The school was selected based on the Heat Equity Index, which takes temperature, location and special needs of students into consideration.
“Every single second we have with students is critical and air conditioning is one way to help us make sure that we’re able to support our students socially, emotionally and academically every single time they step into our doors,” Polaris Elementary School Principal Adrienne Lopez said.
HPM Contracting project manager Nathan Palmer told FOX31 renovating the historic building, built in 1906, requires specialized skills and lots of loving care.
“We don’t know what’s in the floors so it’s always a surprise when we’re pulling them up,” Palmer said.
FOX31 witnessed Palmer’s team carefully working to avoid disturbing beautiful architectural elements like 100-year-old tiles in the school auditorium.
Palmer’s crew said it is a labor of love knowing that having cool, comfortable classrooms will make a difference in the life of every student.
“Knowing that the kids have one less thing to distract them from the work, that makes me happy,” Palmer said.
DPS told FOX31 that heat mitigation teams are working to provide cooling equipment for schools still on the waiting list. West High School’s air conditioning project is scheduled to be completed on Aug. 7. The Polaris Elementary School project is expected to be finished by 2024.