School in Euclid dismisses early because of temperatures

EUCLID, Ohio-- A local charter school dismissed students early Tuesday and planned to do so again Wednesday because of hot temperatures in classrooms, upsetting some parents.

Noble Academy Cleveland notified parents Monday night that school would dismiss three hours early on Tuesday, at 12:15 p.m., because of predicted heat indexes or "feels like" temperatures in the 90s.

Classroom temperatures are often warmer than outdoor temperatures in the school building, at the former site of St. Paul's Catholic Church on East 200th Street. Limited classrooms have window air conditioning units, and teachers in other classrooms struggle to keep classrooms cool by using fans, opening windows and turning off lights, according to school administrators.

"Our building progressively gets hotter with these hot days, and our top floor especially, the heat and humidity is so great we're concerned for our students' safety and our staff's safety," Noble Academy assistant principal Lea Hammond said.

By late morning Tuesday, temperatures in some classrooms had reached the mid-80s, making learning difficult. Hammond said it's a larger concern now since the school year starts earlier, amid August heat.

Some parents said the change in schedule created a big hassle as they made last-minute arrangements to pick up their children from school. School buses are not available for early dismissal, according to Hammond.

"I was actually very mad," said parent Mikiyah Sharp, who left work to pick up her daughter. "It's just a big inconvenience in general because I shouldn't have to pay for separate child care when my child is supposed to be in school."

Hammond said the school is in the process of installing a new, $70,000 air conditioning system that was supposed to be completed by the start of the school year. Delays pushed it back, but Hammond said it is expected to be completed within the next two to three weeks.

"It's a difficult balance of trying to decide what is the best call for us as a school," Hammond said. "The last thing we want to do is lose academic time, which is why we're trying an early dismissal rather than a full day of being out of the building."

Hammond said based on predicted temperatures for Wednesday, the school will again dismiss early, at 1 p.m.

She said the school is working with parents who are having difficulty making earlier transportation arrangements and will allow those students to remain in air conditioned classrooms until parents are able to pick them up.