Jefferson Middle School cools down just in time for school

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | 8:57 p.m. CDT
Jefferson Middle School added a central cooling system to the building this summer. It was the last school in the Columbia School District to receive a building-wide system. Teachers and students had been relying on single-classroom units to stay cool during the school year.

COLUMBIA — When students walk through the double doors to Jefferson Middle School on Tuesday, they will be met with crisp, refrigerated air. For the first time since it opened in 1911, the school at 713 Rogers St. has permanent air-conditioning units throughout the building.

Prior to the installation of mobile air-conditioning units last year, the school had, on average, three to five days of heat dismissal per year, said Michelle Baumstark, spokeswoman for Columbia Public Schools. In the 2012-13 school year, Jefferson was forced to dismiss students early eight times due to heat.

"It just was not a learning environment conducive to being productive," Baumstark said.

The district allotted $3 million for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning installation at the school. Due to the building's age, the installation process was a complicated one, involving renovation of the ceilings, the walls and upgrading the electrical system to handle a fully functioning HVAC unit, Baumstark said.

"It's not like you're just installing a chiller box on the roof," she said.

HVAC projects are also complete at Rock Bridge and New Haven elementary schools.

The addition of air-conditioning units to Jefferson means all Columbia Public Schools are now air-conditioned.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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