St. Louis City, MO (KSDK) - It may not feel like it, but local school districts are getting ready for a new school year. But this heat wave has some school officials concerned. In St. Louis, they're racing the clock to make sure all schools are air conditioned in time.
Eighty-seven air conditioning units are being installed at Gateway Science, Technology, Engineering and Math High School. Last year, there were only a few units in several classrooms.
Keeping Gateway cool is a challenge due to the sheer size of the building: 470,000-square feet, including an airport hangar, five floors and more than 100 classrooms.
"Coming back to school at the beginning of the school year it's extremely hot and during the last couple of years, we made sure the kids drank a lot of water," said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Williams, an instructor at the school.
It's about more than keeping the kids happy, it's also about keeping them healthy during very hot weather.
"We assess the children and make sure we are addressing their health needs," said Richelle Clark, Health Services Manager. "We make sure the children are adequately hydrated, even to the point of having extra water in the classrooms."
This is about more than putting in more air conditioning units or central air. Many of the schools had to have new electrical systems and that, had to happen first.
Buder Elementary is one of two buildings getting central air this year.
The $70 million cost to outfit the buildings, some of which date back to the early 20th century, with proper air conditioning comes from two bond issues.
But will all 78 school buildings be cooled and ready by the first day?
Like St. Louis, some Normandy schools don't have central air, but they do have window units. Most Ferguson-Florissant buildings have central air but some have window units. And it's all central air in Mehlville, Parkway and Francis Howell.