Dubuque Schools Take Unique Approach to Cooling Schools

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Another hot day forced some schools to send their kids home early. About 15 percent of Iowa's school buildings don't have air conditioning. But some schools in Dubuque are finding ways to keep cool while class is in session.

Most of Dubuque's 19 school buildings don't have air conditioning. That's because many of the buildings are so old.

Slowly but surely, each of Kati McFadden's Second Graders run out of steam.

McFadden said, "They get really hot. And then they just kind of droop to their desk and their heads go down and you know they can't listen or learn anymore. "

But she says her students are the lucky ones. At Eisenhower and Hoover schools, custodians installed portable air conditioners. They help take the humidity out of the air and drop the temperature from 94 to 84.

Dubuque Schools Superintendent Stan Rheingans said, "If we had that temperature in all of our classrooms that we have at Hoover and Eisenhower we wouldn't be releasing early today. "

Crews scrammbled to install each of the $400 portable systems just in time for this week's heat wave.

Administrators say the cost to permanently update the old buildings outweighs the benefits.

Dubuque Schools Buildings and Grounds Manager Bill Burkhart said, "if you look back at Sageville School, that air conditioning project was a little bit over a million dollars. And that's just one school. "

When only 8 to 10 days of the school year are typically this hot, administrators say adding air would come at the cost of other projects.

Rheingans said, "To just say we are going to only air conditioning to our buildings would probably mean that we wouldn't upgrade our technology or do other building projects for a three or four year period. "

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