Heat Wave Has Lindhurst High School on Alert

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OLIVEHURST --

School officials at Lindhurst High School in Olivehurst are on alert because its aging air-conditioning system is failing.

The problem came to light when school started in August. School had to be let out early when temperatures hit triple digits.

Two air-conditioning units feed chilled water to the campuses buildings, but one of them broke down causing a dozen or more classrooms to overheat. Temperatures climbed into the mid-80s inside, enough to cause discomfort and focus issues with students.

Industrial-sized fans, portable room coolers and water distributed to students were all used. Students have been released, going home at 1 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. when the afternoon heat is at its worst.

"Are we where we want to be? No," said principal Bob Ekert.

Marysville Unified School District officials say quick fixes to the system failed and a major overhaul is looming.

"The temporary measures are helping, but they're not a permanent fix," said Ryan DiGiulio, the assistant superintendent for business services.

District architects have submitted plans to upgrade the system to state authorities and the district has paid a "fast track" fee to try to get the repair approved more quickly.

Still, parents were told that a required bidding procedure and final approvals by the school board means that it will be November before repairs can get under way.

Things could be worse. One of the school's two units that feed chilled water to campus buildings is still working. The problem is centered on two classroom buildings that serve around 200 students per class period. There are nearly 1,200 students at the school.

The district says it is doing all it can to make things bearable for staff and students. That includes rotating classes to other buildings to give some students relief from the heat.

In anticipation of higher temperatures, the school has already declared Thursday and Friday as minimum days. They'll keep an eye on temperatures and are prepared to end classes early on Wednesday if necessary.

DiGulio says they are doing all they can to make sure the learning process goes forward, but also says it may be up to Mother Nature to bring relief in the form of cooler temperatures.

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