A parent who led a push for air conditioning at five schools at Lake Zurich Unit District 95 contends there are flaws in new excessive heat procedures for students and teachers in classrooms without central air conditioning.
Kildeer resident Andrea Trudeau received at least 400 signatures for an online petition that asked District 95 officials to consider central air for the buildings without it after most of the week of Aug. 26 had temperatures in the 90s. She and other parents brought their concerns to a September school board meeting.
Trudeau said while the district's new policy is appreciated, she questioned it kicking in when a combination of heat and humidity reaches 97 degrees. That calculation, known as the heat index, will come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, District 95 officials said.
"This means students and staff still face hot conditions that can be up to 25 degrees over the ideal temperature for learning and working," said Trudeau, a mother and a Deerfield Elementary District 109 teacher.
At a meeting last week, District 95 Superintendent Michael Egan said the excessive heat procedure was crafted in response to the concerns expressed by parents and employees. The policy applies to the five of eight schools without central air conditioning when it's considered too hot in classrooms.
If the combination of heat and humidity is 97 degrees or greater, measures to be taken include keeping overhead lighting to a minimum, sending all available fans to classrooms, frequent water breaks and limited physical activity for students.
Classrooms will be rotated so students may cool off in areas with limited air conditioning.
Trudeau, who remains an air conditioning proponent, also questioned an early dismissal schedule becoming part of the plan if the heat index persists at 97 degrees for a second consecutive day and those that follow.
"While the excessive heat procedures call for early release or cancellation on school days like this, is it right that students who attend schools without air conditioning miss out on hours of education that their counterparts in other schools within the same district are receiving?" Trudeau said in an email to the Daily Herald.
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, May Whitney and Sarah Adams elementary schools and Middle School South, all in Lake Zurich, are not centrally air-conditioned. Trudeau's two sons attend Isaac Fox.
District 95 school board members said they want to see projections for student enrollment in a demographic study before trying to decide facility needs, including air conditioning. Officials said the report should be ready in June.
"Right now, we have eight schools," District 95 board President Tony Pietro said. "What's it going to look like five years from now? I think that's the first step."