The Des Moines School District says 96% of its classrooms are air conditioned and in the next two years, all of them will be.
Not every district is so lucky.
The Iowa Department of Education estimates 15% of classrooms across the state do not have air conditioning.
Students at Prairie City-Monroe High School say a few hours in sweltering hot classrooms, where temperatures neared 90 degrees by 10 AM is worth a few extra hours of freedom.
“There are fans everywhere. It’s just hot.”
“It was a good decision to let out early.”
The district is letting students out at noon all week long.
The reason is that only 1/4 of classrooms are air conditioned.
Scott Bridges, the principal at PCM says it’s not an ideal environment for learning.
“The students trying to learn geometry or calculus are going to have a tough time concentrating,” Bridges told Channel 13 News.
For now, fans, open doors, and early dismissals is the way it has to be.
According to Baker Group, a mechanical construction company out of Des Moines, air conditioning projects can range from $1 million to $6 million dollars based on the size of a building, how old the building is, and how complex of a system a district is looking to install.
For Prairie City-Monroe, the money needs to be spent in other places.
“When you’re dealing with school budgets, you have to make sure you have the funding to educate the kids before you get rooms air conditioned,” said Bridges.
Even if the district was able to come up with the funds through local option sales tax, the decision as to whether it would be worth it would have to be made.
“You have to consider how many days in the year you might let out early for the heat. The priority is in the classroom, said Bridges.