It didn't take long for Lake Zurich Unit District 95 officials to tap into a new excessive heat policy designed for school buildings without central air conditioning.
District 95 ordered an early dismissal for some pupils Monday -- the first day of classes for the 2014-15 academic season. Parents received an email Sunday alerting them to the district plan to release their children two hours earlier than usual, based on weather forecasts.
"Yes, how ironic that we had to institute the extreme heat procedures on the first day after a relatively cool summer," District 95 spokeswoman Jean Malek said.
Five of eight District 95 buildings, all in Lake Zurich, don't have central air conditioning: Middle School South and Seth Paine, Isaac Fox, May Whitney and Sarah Adams elementary schools.
Malek said the early dismissals in those buildings went smoothly. She said full-day classes are set for Tuesday in the schools without the central air.
District 95 officials ordered the early release in advance based on forecasts that indicated Monday's temperature was supposed to be in the mid to high 90s, with a heat index of up to 103 degrees. After measuring in the 80s from about 8 to 11 a.m. at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, the temperature dipped into the 70s, according to the National Weather Service.
Weather service meteorologist Amy Seeley said clouds and rain kept the temperature from reaching the projected high.
District 95 officials said the excessive heat procedures were formed for 2014-15 in response to concerns from parents and school board members that arose early in the last academic year.
That's when 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 several school days featured temperatures in the 90s.
On Monday, Trudeau said she and other parents she spoke to were satisfied District 95 gave ample notice about the decision to have a short first day of school due to the predicted excessive heat. She said she made arrangements for someone to watch her sons after school.
Trudeau added she still has concerns about the overall air quality in District 95 buildings.
"The heat procedures are a step in the right direction," she said, "but there must be more discussion, and, more importantly, action, regarding (indoor air quality) and facilities to be sure that we are providing a safe, healthy working and learning environment for our students and staff members."
An air conditioning feasibility study ordered by District 95 shows it could cost $19 million to $25 million to chill the five schools. The report was prepared by RuckPate Architecture of Barrington, with assistance from Schaumburg-based 20/10 Engineering Group.
Middle School North and Spencer Loomis Elementary School, both in Hawthorn Woods, and Lake Zurich High School are the three buildings with air conditioning. The normal class schedule was held in those buildings Monday.