Heat Makes Teaching Tough
Jefferson Junior High School teacher Jo Cunningham sees first hand how the heat affects her students.
"They're not able to concentrate as much as they would if they were in air conditioning and we have to take more breaks, let them have water breaks and can't cover as much materials," Cunningham said.
Jefferson Junior High is one of about a dozen Columbia schools without air conditioning. To combat the heat, teachers use fans, keep lights low, and encourage kids to drink plenty of water. But school officials say the district needs to upgrade the buildings.
"I think over the next few years its just critical that we get our buildings air conditioned and then we can do so much more even in the summer with summer school," said Dr. Lynn Barnett, Assistant Superintendent.
In Jefferson Junior High there are about 25 classrooms without air conditioning. A window unit could cost around $500 for each room.Making a total of $12,500 to install window units just at that school.
Money from the school bond passed by voters last April is not enough to cover all the schools. So in days of high temperatures, teachers will have to change some of their classroom methods.
Both teachers and students are looking forward to cooler school days ahead.
Five elementary schools will get air conditioning by next fall using money from the bond initiative passed last April. To cool down other schools, the district may have to go back to voters, and that is not likely to happen until 2011.