SJ district focuses on keeping kids cool


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"You get tired when it's hot," says teacher Hazel Herman to her students.

In this kindergarten class at Cesar Chavez Elementary in San Jose, a fan was brought in to help keep the classroom cool. The air conditioner is old and does little to help on these hot days.

"You can tell, they get antsy. They ask for water, so definitely they need to drink a lot of water when it gets hot," says Herman.

Ten of the 24 schools in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District have no air conditioners. Some parents have complained, but that's about to change.

What some parents in the Alum Rock School District don't realize is that in a few years all of their 27 schools will have air conditioning. That's because a year ago $179 million bond measure was passed to make some major improvements here.

The money from Measure G will go to repair and renovate aging buildings, improve safety routes, and yes, help install new air conditioning systems.

"If you could imagine when it's triple digits out here, you can add another 10 degrees inside the classroom and when you have 30, 35 kids moving around, it's very uncomfortable. So the conditions for learning were not there," says Orlando Ramos, Ph.D., from Mathson Middle School.

They are now. Over the summer, the district installed two state of the art centralized air conditioning systems at two middle schools. Next summer, four more schools will be added to that list, until every school has air conditioning.

"Student achievement goes up when we can air condition and provide safety, safe environment, a healthy environment, student participation goes up and ultimately we hope test scores go up," says chief facilities bond officer Neil Rauschhuber.

Parents like Maria Alvarez say keeping the classroom cool helps kids to focus on school work.

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