It won't be long until the spring weather melts into a swelter — inside old schools, that is.

In past years, some classroom temperatures exceeded 90 degrees in summer and cooled off only when outside temperatures dropped in the fall.

Granite School District is reviewing which schools don't have cooling and plans to make a possible priority list.

Administrators stress, however, that nothing has been decided, noting that with a price tag as high as $42.4 million, and ongoing costs at around $1 million annually, air conditioning at the schools will be a slow endeavor.

"We're just trying to figure out if there's a solution," Granite Board of Education president Sarah Meier said. "We're trying to look at all the possibilities. We have no plan at this point, but we're trying to see if we can do it a little bit at a time."

Granite's year-round schools and offices and computer labs are air conditioned. Schools also have been retrofitted for future air conditioning or have received chillers as they were rebuilt or renovated.

In all, 32 schools are fully air conditioned. Four schools — Cottonwood, Cyprus and Granger high schools, and West Lake Junior High — are partially air conditioned. Jackling, Moss, Rolling Meadows and Roosevelt elementaries have been retrofitted for future air conditioning.

That leaves 51 schools without cooling, and a lot of teachers a little hot under the collar.

"It is a priority," said Dean Sheffer, president of the Granite Education Association. "Teachers cannot teach when the conditions are so hostile. When you're sitting at a desk when it's 96 degrees, there have to be some safety issues there."

Several school districts have tried to cool things down. Some let students bring misters and water bottles. Salt Lake City elementary students once made their own swamp coolers out of wet burlap draped over a fan. Schools also have left windows open at night to cool rooms, but security concerns eliminated that option, Meier said.

Salt Lake City voters in recent years approved a bond to rebuild and air-condition district schools.

Jordan District air-conditions new schools and others that are renovated, but there's no plan to bring cooling to everyone, spokeswoman Melinda Colton said, noting it's just too expensive.

View Comments

Air-conditioning 36 elementaries, 10 junior highs and five high schools would cost Granite $35.1 million to $42.4 million, plus $800,000 to $1.1 million a year in operation costs, according to a district study.

Even though money's tight, the school board wants to at least examine the matter.

"We had enough concerns as board members we thought we owed it to the kids and the teachers and all our employees to take a look again at what it would take," Meier said.


Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.