Denver added air conditioning to 11 more schools this summer. That leaves 43 without.

Young students hold posters showing images of thermometers to protest hot temperatures in their schools.
Denver students protest their hot classrooms outside DPS headquarters in August 2019. (Helen H. Richardson / Denver Post)

As Denver Public Schools students head back to class amid expected outdoor temperatures in the 80s and 90s, 11 more schools will have air conditioning. 

For years, DPS has been chipping away at a long list of schools without cooling. The money to add air conditioning to the 11 schools this summer came from a bond issue passed by Denver voters in 2020. The bond money will also pay for 13 more schools to get air conditioning over the next year. That will leave 31 DPS schools without cooling, according to the district.

Denver frequently sees temperatures in the 90s in August and even September. Last year, more than 30 DPS schools called “heat days” during a streak of hot weather in September. The schools either canceled classes altogether or released students early.

The district has taken other steps to try to prevent students from becoming overheated, lethargic, and even sick in class due to high temperatures. In 2021, the school board voted to push back the first day of school by a week — a schedule DPS maintains today. Most DPS schools start Monday, though some schools that set their own calendars started earlier.

The 11 schools that got air conditioning this summer are:

Fairview Elementary School (Fairview closed this past spring for low enrollment but will host the district’s Next Steps program for students with emotional disabilities this school year.)

Ashley Elementary School

Force Elementary School

Hallett Academy

Smith Elementary School

Valverde Elementary School

Grant Beacon Middle School

Merrill Middle School

Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School and Denver Online High School

Manual High School

West High School

The 13 schools that are expected to have air conditioning by next year are:

Carson Elementary School

Columbine Elementary School

Cowell Elementary School

Denison Montessori School

Knapp Elementary School

Polaris Elementary School

Sabin World Elementary School

Stedman Elementary School

Steele Elementary School

Denver Green School Southeast

McAuliffe International School

KIPP Denver Collegiate High School

Thomas Jefferson High School

Thirty-one Denver schools still do not have air conditioning — and the district has not set aside money to add it. DPS has ranked the schools in terms of priority. 

That priority is determined by a combination of factors, including which schools have the hottest classrooms and which schools have the highest percentages of students from low-income families and students who qualify for special education services.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.

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