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The community has been very vocal about the too-hot temperatures in our classrooms during the month of August, and I’ve listened and moved to act.

After talking with many of you, and after evaluating costs and state laws, I think the best solution is to start the school year after Labor Day.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to let kids start this week? The weather’s been beautiful.

I wanted to share the text of a resolution that I’ll be presenting at our board meeting on Thursday, September 15, in a first reading (draft) form. In a nutshell, it points out that kids have a hard time learning when the classroom is too hot, it underscores that we don’t really have money to retrofit our older buildings with cooling systems, and it takes into consideration that we do have legal windows within which to work regarding the length of our school year and when the CSAP is to be administered. Here’s the text of the resolution:

Study to determine appropriate school year start dates

Whereas classroom temperatures during August 2011 have, in some cases, risen to levels above 90° Fahrenheit and reportedly even as high as 103° Fahrenheit, causing extreme discomfort and even emergency room visits for students and school personnel, and;

Whereas our students have taken assessments during August 2011 in uncomfortably hot classrooms, which could potentially negatively skew assessment data, and;

Whereas extreme classroom temperatures have an even more pronounced effect on special-needs students who are less ambulatory or speech impaired, making the communication of discomfort more difficult, and;

Whereas according to the 1990 Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model, extreme classroom temperature negatively affects the ability to concentrate and learn because of the brain’s need for balanced environmental factors to assist in cognitive processes, and;

Whereas half our school buildings were constructed without central air conditioning or without evaporative cooling systems, and;

Whereas even the most conservative estimates for updating HVAC systems in our older schools are exceedingly high and would divert bond funds away from new school construction or necessary modifications to existing schools, and;

Whereas the school year start date is affected by the state-mandated CSAP three-week testing window to occur in February and March of each year, and;

Whereas the parents and community of the Denver Public Schools have clearly spoken out in concern for the high temperatures in our classrooms during the month of August;

Therefore, the Board of Education instructs the Superintendent to present recommendations to the Board no later than the regularly-scheduled December 2011 board meeting on a new start date for the 2012-2013 school year that begins on a date after Labor Day and ends on a date to coincide with state-mandated classroom seat time requirements and that presents accommodations for sporting season start dates and other events that may be affected by a later start date.

How you can help

The other board members need to know that you want them to support my resolution and that the intent should be maintained as they contribute their thoughts to make it stronger. Can you email them at board@dpsk12.org?

Also, offering public comment at our meeting on September 15 is a great idea. Public comment starts around 6:30 p.m. To get on the schedule, call the Board Office at 720-423-3210 by 5:00 p.m. on September 14. Because we sometimes run late, if you’d like to bring your children (not a bad idea), please plan accordingly. If you can’t come, you can tune in on Comcast channel 22.

There are a group of parents that are driving the train behind the petition drive and are even going to have kids sign their own petition. Do you want to help? Please contact Stacy at stacy@davidorsmith.com to find out how to help.

I’m looking forward to fixing this problem with you!