Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado
School started in Denver on Monday, and with temperatures climbing into the high 80s this week, 48 campuses still don’t have air conditioning.
That’s fewer than the 55 campuses that didn’t have air conditioning in 2020, when Denver Public Schools asked voters to pass a $795 million bond for a slew of projects, including installing air conditioning at 24 schools. Voters overwhelmingly passed the bond.
Hot classrooms are a perennial problem in Denver, where some school buildings are a century old and temperatures in August can reach the high 90s. The district pushed back the first day of school this year by a week to try to mitigate the likelihood of overheated students.
Of the 24 schools slated to get air conditioning with funding from the 2020 bond, work has been completed at seven schools, said Heather Bock, the district’s director of construction.
Work is nearly completed at another eight campuses, Bock said: Manual High, Merrill Middle, McAuliffe International, Ashley Elementary, Columbine Elementary, Knapp Elementary, and two campuses, Rishel and Smedley, that are home to multiple schools, including KIPP Denver Collegiate High School, Math and Science Leadership Academy, Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School, and Denver Online High School.
That work at those campuses has been held up by supply chain issues but is scheduled to finish in late fall, Bock said.
Work to install air conditioning is set to start next summer at another nine schools, she said: Thomas Jefferson High, Denver Green School, Steele Elementary, Polaris Elementary, Cowell Elementary, Sabin World Elementary, Denison Montessori, Stedman Elementary, and Carson Elementary.
That will leave 31 schools without air conditioning or plans to install it. Those schools are:
Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at email@example.com.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.