Some parents at Grayslake Elementary District 46 are unhappy about the lack of air conditioning at two schools.
District 46 board members heard from the parents whose children attend Meadowview and Woodview schools, both in Grayslake, during public comment time at a meeting Wednesday.
Superintendent Ellen Correll cited expected high humidity and warmer-than-usual temperatures for deciding to call off classes Wednesday at both schools, which serve students in kindergarten through fourth grade. She issued the decision Tuesday.
Board members in February voted to add air conditioning to Grayslake Middle School for the 2012-13 academic year for less than $1 million. However, there were not enough board votes to approve air conditioning at Woodview and Meadowview.
Proponents of installing air conditioning at the middle school noted its enrollment of more than 800 students is the largest of the district's buildings. Four other District 46 schools have air conditioning.
District 46's elected officials were criticized for the air conditioning decision by the parents who spoke at Wednesday night's board meeting.
Parent Eric Gallagher said Prairieview School in Hainesville, where his daughter attends classes, is air-conditioned and seems "more important to the board" than Meadowview, where his son is a student.
"I'm concerned there was an ability to put air conditioning at Meadowview School, but the board chose not to do that," Gallagher said.
Another parent, Nicole Dusek, said one of her children attends the middle school and was in class Wednesday, while the other who is at Meadowview stayed home. She said her family pays at least $7,400 in taxes to District 46 annually and questioned how officials are spending the money.
"You cannot pick and choose schools (for air conditioning) based on your own preference," Dusek said. "You all should be ashamed of yourselves."
Board member Shannon Smigielski responded that District 46 is in a financial hole and it was not an easy decision to select the middle school for air conditioning over Meadowview and Woodview. She also questioned why the lack of air conditioning suddenly has become an issue.
"I cannot vote to put something in if the money is not there," Smigielski said.
Board President Ray Millington had tried to convince his colleagues in February to approve air conditioning for Meadowview, Woodview and the middle school.
In August, Correll announced the district will track a heat index chart, similar to how windchill factor is monitored in the winter, before determining if Woodview and Meadowview are safe for classes. Heat and humidity are part of the equation, with green, yellow and red color codes on the chart serving as a guide.