Is August too hot for school
MILFORD – A mother who said her son came home from school dehydrated during the heat wave asked the Milford School Board last week to change from a days-based to an hours-based calendar. With an hours-based calendar there can be fewer school days at the beginning and end of the school year when the weather is more likely to be hot.
"It’s crazy sitting in these classrooms with just fans," said Carla Boudreau at the board’s meeting last week. "There is not a lot of education going on in these 90-degree days," especially on the second floors of Heron Pond Elementary and the middle school, she said.
Boudreau said more air conditioning would be expensive, but changing the calendar year would not be.
The state Department of Education now allows districts to adopt an hours-based calendar instead of the traditional 180-day calendar.
Milford uses the 180- day calendar and schools started early, on Aug. 26. The following week outdoor temperatures were pushing 90.
Amherst and Mont Vernon schools did not go back until more than a week later, on Sept. 8, which means they missed most of the heat wave. SAU 39’s calendar is hours based, allowing for longer school days and a shorter school year.
Milford Superintendent of Schools Robert Marquis said there was no question that there was some disruption of education during the heat wave, and everyone was doing as much as they could to bring relief, with children and staff invited to use air-conditioned cafeterias and libraries.
"I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about the heat … and a lot of time talking to administrators, nurses and walking through the buildings, he said.
After Boudreau asked school board members if they had been in the schools last week, Robert Willette said he didn’t have to. "My son is a substitute teacher and he came home soaking wet."
Marquis said he will have an itemized list of capital improvements for the next board meeting, but no one at the meeting seemed to think that voters would approve funds to fully air condition the schools.
And board members indicated that changing the school calendar would probably not be a priority.
The subject of the school calendar will be on the agenda for the next school board meeting, Chairman Paul Dargie said later in an email. "No action will be taken at that meeting – it will just be a discussion of what will be done on the subject prior to the setting of the calendar for the next year, if anything."