Since they have toughed it out, the students at Orchard Elementary School will get free snow cones Friday.
But, on a more serious note, two Sylvan Union School District board members will talk with air-conditioning experts about possible temporary solutions to cool off the students at Orchard Elementary. A failed cooling system has left them in sweltering classrooms as a late August heat wave bears down on the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
At a school board meeting Tuesday evening, board president Terriann Zeek did ask that a snow-cone truck visit the school Friday to hand out free treats to the children at the kindergarten-through-fifth grade school.
"It is unbelievable during this heat wave what they are dealing with," Zeek said. "We are heartbroken this has happened."
Board Member George Rawe said he hoped people with expertise can propose an immediate solution for reducing the temperature in classrooms. A permanent solution -- replacing the air-conditioning and heating system at Orchard -- will take nine months. School officials hope it's done before next summer so the same situation is not repeated.
At Tuesday's meeting, parents told the school board that some of the classrooms have been 85 degrees or higher during the daytime hours this week. Speakers said their kids come home with shirts soaked in sweat.
Orchard and other schools in the Sylvan school district have a minimum day Wednesday. The afternoon temperature could hit 107 in parts of Modesto on Friday.
Teacher Chris Aguilar cited records going back seven years or more that detail problems with the HVAC system at Orchard. In June, the district sought bids from contractors for replacing the system. The lowest bid from three contractors was $1 million over the $2 million budget for the project.
The district has $2 million for the replacement but needs an additional $1.3 million. Board members will meet with a financial adviser to discuss terms of financing the $1.3 million. The district hopes that work to replace the HVAC equipment can start within four weeks.