Schools closed due to heat

Tha Flower Fac­tory, one of few ur­ban farms to fo­cus on flow­ers, brings growth — and beauty — to an East Bal­ti­more neigh­bor­hood Un­der Balto. County pol­icy, 37 un­cooled sites shut­tered to­day

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Liz Bowie

Bal­ti­more County will close 37 schools to­day, and per­haps early next week, un­der a re­cently adopted pol­icy re­quir­ing schools with­out air con­di­tion­ing to be closed when the heat in­dex is fore­cast to reach at least 90 de­grees.

The new pol­icy, adopted this month, is be­ing ap­plied just two days af­ter the start of the new school year. It re­moves the su­per­in­ten­dent’s dis­cre­tion to de­cide when to close schools and re­quires him to an­nounce school clo­sures by 8 p.m. the night be­fore a fore­cast of a high heat in­dex.

“It could be that stu­dents might not have school at all next week,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent Dal­las Dance. “That could be a prob­lem.”

Not only might stu­dents miss school, but all sports and af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties at those schools would be can­celed as well. The rest of the county’s 173 schools have air con­di­tion­ing and will re­main open.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice is fore­cast­ing tem­per­a­tures in the lower 90s and high hu­mid­ity by early this af­ter­noon. That Dal­las Dance

trig­ger a clo­sure. trans­lates to a heat in­dex of 98 or 99 “To me, 90 de­grees is not that bad. I don’t de­grees, ac­cord­ing to the weather ser­vice. think that is warm enough to close. If it is

Late-summer heat is ex­pected to con­tin100 de­grees that is an­other thing,” Todd ue into next week, with tem­per­a­tures said. around 90 de­grees and an even higher heat The new heat clo­sure pol­icy came af­ter a in­dex fore­cast through the first three days group of ac­tivist par­ents lob­bied for the of the week. Had the pol­icy been in ef­fect change. They sought clos­ing de­ci­sions by 8 dur­ing the last school year, schools with­out p.m., so par­ents could make ar­range­ments air con­di­tion­ing might have closed twice in for the care of their chil­dren. Au­gust, six times in Septem­ber and twice in Many of them had worked with state May. Comptroller Peter Fran­chot in his un­suc

Dance said he would seek a waiver from cess­ful at­tempt to get win­dow units inthe Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­castalled in the schools with­out air con­di­tion­ing.tion­re­quire­ment­that­stu­dents­bein­school for 180 days, if more heat-re­lated clo­sures Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kaoc­cur. Un­der such a waiver, stu­dents at the menetz re­fused to in­stall win­dow units, af­fected schools would not have to make up say­ing it was a waste of money to buy them the missed days later in the school year. and re­wire schools to ac­com­mo­date the

Par­ents are di­vided over whether heatadded elec­tri­cal load at the same time the re­lated clo­sures are good for stu­dents. county was close to pro­vid­ing a per­ma­nent

Lily Rowe, a par­ent who ad­vo­cated for so­lu­tion. the pol­icy, be­lieves it is in­hu­mane for The county schools had a plan to in­stall chil­dren to be stuck in hot class­rooms. air con­di­tion­ing in all the schools. Ka­men

She said the schools should have been etz is ac­cel­er­at­ing the work by pro­vid­ing closed Thurs­day as well af­ter the fore­cast $85 mil­lion to the county schools bud­get. showed a 90-de­gree heat in­dex for Dun­dalk All but 11 schools will be air-con­di­tioned by by 8 p.m. the night be­fore. next fall, and every school but one, Col­gate

“I am an­gry about it,” she said. “Now the El­e­men­tary, which is be­ing re­placed in su­per­in­ten­dent’s of­fice isn’t fol­low­ing the 2020, will have air con­di­tion­ing by 2019. heat clo­sure pol­icy.” The county ex­pects the state to reim

Rowe and other par­ents posted pic­tures burse it for part of the costs. of the fore­casts on so­cial media with an­gry Kamenetz was not in­volved in de­vel­com­ments about Dance not clos­ing schools. op­ing the heat pol­icy, said Don Mohler, his Other par­ents dis­agreed. chief of staff and spokesman. “How can my child grow in­tel­lec­tu­ally, “He de­ferred to the board to make a so­cially when she is at home?” said Jen­nifer de­ci­sion,” Mohler said. Tarr, the par­ent of a ju­nior at Du­laney High Fran­chot has been mon­i­tor­ing the im­pleS­chool. “She needs to be in school. Yes, it is men­ta­tion of the heat clo­sure poli­cies “for un­com­fort­able.” in­for­ma­tional pur­poses,” said Alan Brody,

Tarr is more con­cerned about over­his spokesman. crowd­ing at the school, and the ag­ing In the re­gion, only Bal­ti­more County and build­ing and old pipes, than the heat dur­ing Bal­ti­more City have schools that are not Septem­ber. air-con­di­tioned. In the city, where many

“I ques­tion the mo­tive of some par­ents,” schools lack air con­di­tion­ing, classes be­gin Tarr said. Mon­day. School clo­sures are made at the

April Todd, the par­ent of a se­nior at dis­cre­tion of the city schools CEO. Pat­ap­sco High School, agreed with Tarr. She would pre­fer school start af­ter La­bor Day when tem­per­a­tures may be cooler, but she doesn’t be­lieve 90 de­grees should

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