Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 parents are urging the Board of Education to look into the indoor air quality and start a plan of action to install air conditioning.
“Effective HVAC systems are not a luxury anymore,” District 95 parent Andrea Trudeau said. “As the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) notes, temperatures are on the rise. So while many of us endured classrooms without air conditioning, the reality is the heat is very different today than decades ago.”
An online petition has over 400 signatures asking the district discuss indoor air quality and create a plan of action that will begin the process of installing and maintain HVAC systems that will improve the learning and working environment for all students and staff, according to the Change.org.
Five out of the district’s eight schools do not have air conditioning. Parents approached the Board of Education recently about the district’s policy on excessive heat and requests to monitor temperatures and air quality in the schools.
Trudeau’s sons are third and second graders at Isaac Fox Elementary School. Her youngest son came home within three hours on the first day of school.
“The heat index was 117 degrees that day. It’s no wonder he felt so awful sitting in his class without air conditioning,” Trudeau said.
Her sons came home those first few weeks of school with heat rashes, headaches and visual impairments, she said.
According to studies, the optimal temperature for learning is 72 degrees, she said. Classrooms need to be comfortable, safe and healthy for learning to occur. If the body is too hot or too cold, the brain becomes focused on its physiological needs which means learning is interrupted and long-term memory is negatively impacted, she said.
The 2012-2013 school year had eight weeks with temperatures above 72 degrees, according to research she conducted.
“How much is it going to take before we do something?” she said.
The district should consider starting the school year later perhaps after Labor Day, consider seeking a competitive bid for HVAC systems that includes air conditioning and have a heat plan that utilizes the district’s resources, Trudeau said.
Deer Park mom Sara Guarisco said the district needs a better plan of action and a better policy for when to call off school or have a half-day.
Jim Tarbet does not see the sense of spending money on something that will be used only a few times a year, he said.
“It’s going to be a ridiculous expense,” Tarbet said, adding rather than asking everyone to pay, students should be taught to be patient during inclement weather.
“The board cannot comment at this time, but I can assure you, we are listening,” Board of Education President Tony Pietro said.