School's early start means the district might be forced to turn to heat days.
Schoolchildren sweating in their seats will find no solace in heat statistics. Mother Nature treats them no differently whether school starts in late August or early September.
The record high today -- the first day of school for many in Lawrence -- is 103 degrees. The record high for Labor Day, the traditional harbinger of school, is 106.
That's why clever people invented air conditioning and why the district, which can't afford the invention for every school, created heat days.
Supt. Al Azinger said recent legislation has increased requirements for the number of hours students should be in school, leading to a longer school year.
"There are more days in the extreme hot weather," he said.
Five of the district's schools have no air conditioning. Pupils at Hillcrest School and Centennial School will have air conditioning for the first time. Air conditioning at Central Junior High School most likely won't be ready until spring and at the high school next fall.
"Schools didn't used to be air-conditioned," Azinger said. "Of course, houses didn't have AC either. So some of the contrasts were not as sharp for students."
Here is the policy for days when heat could affect students' health or productivity:
- Decisions regarding early dismissal or school closures will be made on a day-to-day basis.
- Administrators will make every effort to announce decisions about early release or school closures by 7 p.m. the night before.
- The district has built four inclement weather days into its calendar. Any adjustment in the normal day would be accommodated within those four days. If additional time is required beyond the four, it would be necessary to make up that time.
- Early dismissals will consist of school being released two hours earlier than the regular dismissal time. All bus schedules will operate two hours early.
- On early dismissal days, school lunches will be served.
- If an early dismissal day is necessary, afternoon kindergarten classes will not meet. If an abnormal number of days is required for early dismissals, adjustments in kindergarten schedules will be considered to balance afternoon kindergarten time with morning time.
- Special education preschools at the Dole Center and at Deerfield School, and Brookcreek preschoolers at New York School will follow their normal schedules on early dismissal days. They will not be released at the early times.
- Closures or early dismissals are districtwide.