NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Three of the city's elementary schools had early dismissals on Friday, September 9, as the air temperature exceeded 93 degrees for the first time since August.
But the district did not thoroughly explain why some of its students were getting an early start to the weekend at first.
It was only the fourth day of school in the New Brunswick school district, which serves more than 10,000 local children.
The three schools in question–Lincoln School, Roosevelt School, and Livingston School–have a few things in common: They're the oldest facilities in the district, they all have adjacent trailer classrooms on-site, and they all have no air conditioning.
When the announcement of the early dismissal was first made, district officials only said it was "due to inclement weather."
But this begged the question: Why would inclement weather affect only three of the district's twelve schools?
"The weather issue is the heat index . the schools being dismissed early have no AC," confirmed Board of Education attorney George Hendricks via email, in response to an inquiry from this newspaper
Parents of the hundreds of children who attend the schools with no air conditioning have been displeased with the situation, to say the least.
While Lincoln School is the oldest in the district, built more than a century ago on Bartlett Street, the Roosevelt Elementary School on Livingston Avenue has garnered the most criticism, and experienced the worst problems in recent years.
"Roosevelt School is by far the WORST SCHOOL in New Brunswick.!" wrote one angry parent who reached out to New Brunswick Today. "No air conditioning my kids are constantly complaining it's hot and they can't concentrate."
The parent also raised concerns about there being no screens in the windows, causing danger to the young students.
"I'm so tired of calling you and the superintendent's office… they don't do anything," lamented the parent.
As we reported, the district was prepared to send Roosevelt students to the district's warehouse school building on Van Dyke Avenue after flooding caused extensive damage last October, and forced the cancellation of two school days for students attending classes in the old building.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.