Some parents in Lake Zurich Unit District 95 are using an online petition to push for air conditioning at five district schools where students endured record temperatures Tuesday without it.
As part of the effort on Change.org, District 95 parents also are being encouraged to attend Thursday's school board meeting to call on board members to act. The meeting takes place at 6:15 p.m. at the Seth Paine Elementary School gymnasium, 50 Miller Road in Lake Zurich. The school doesn't have air conditioning.
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"It is important for our board of education to improve indoor air quality to support students, teachers and learning in the classroom," the petition says in part. "Currently, only three ... of eight schools have air conditioning. Unfortunately, students and staff in ALL schools have noted that indoor air quality is problematic according to the fall 2012 surveys posted on the district website."
District 95 parent Andrea Trudeau of Kildeer launched the online petition. She said while cost may be a concern for new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, there could be a way for the school board to work through the finances.
"I think it's a matter of changing (financial) priorities," Trudeau said.
District 95 board President Tony Pietro said Wednesday that administrators have been asked to look into the cost of air conditioning. The expense was pegged in the "double-digit millions" in a previous major facilities plan, he added.
Pietro said he's also heard concern about the lack of central air from District 95's teachers union president and plans to meet with her next week. While air conditioning isn't on Thursday night's agenda, he expects the school board to discuss the issue at a future meeting.
"We're all in this together," Pietro said. "We all have kids in this district."
Middle School North and Spencer Loomis Elementary School, both in Hawthorn Woods, and Lake Zurich High School are the three district buildings with central air conditioning.
Seth Paine, Isaac Fox Elementary School, May Whitney Elementary School, Middle School South and Sarah Adams Elementary School, all located in Lake Zurich, are not centrally air-conditioned. District 95 officials have said students can cool off in air-conditioned libraries in the five schools.
In addition, District 95 uses extreme heat measures that include officials ensuring children are properly hydrated throughout the day and reducing activity levels in physical education classes.
District 95 isn't the only school system in Lake County where a lack of air conditioning has drawn concern recently as the 2013-14 academic year has started with some extreme heat.
Last week, Grayslake Elementary District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll said it could run up to $1.5 million to install air conditioning at Meadowview and Woodview schools, which serve students in kindergarten through fourth grade. She said other possible options to create a cooler learning environment include moving the beginning of the academic year past Labor Day or bumping up daily start times.
Correll told school board members last week that research shows the optimum temperature to learn is 72 degrees. She said temperatures over 80 degrees are believed to have a negative impact on memory.