Some North Bay students to get out of school early because of excessive heat

It will be a shorter be a shorter school day on Tuesday - and the rest of the week –  for some students in the North Bay because of the excessive heat. 

Students at Lu Sutton Elementary School in Novato, Novato High School and Hill Education Center will start their days at 8:30 a.m., but end at 12:45 p.m. – not 3:05 p.m. as usual, through Friday. 

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Lu Sutton Elementary is the only elementary school in Novato Unified School District that does not have air conditioning.

"It's tough to stay focused. Tough even for adults to stay focused when we're so warm," said Novato Unified School District Superintendent, Jan Derby.

Two other schools in the district, Novato High School and Hill Education Center will also be on a minimum day schedule all week because of the extreme heat. The three schools do not have air conditioning.

"We've got our fans on in the classrooms, we have air coolers and plenty of ice and water to support all of our staff and students," said Lu Sutton Elementary Principal, Mira Patel.

Some teachers planned to keep the lights off, to keep things cooler in their classrooms. Lu Sutton Elementary was making other adjustments because of the heat, like having recess indoors and limiting or even rescheduling PE classes.

Parents were disappointed but not surprised.

"I've been upset about this school not having air conditioning for years," said Lu Sutton Elementary parent Jim McAlpine, whose daughter is in 5th grade. "I guess it makes sense to cut the day short because they don't have air conditioning, but I am not happy about it at all."

Other parents voiced similar frustrations.

"We have to make arrangements to pick her up early and we don't even have air conditioning at home," said another parent, Janette Bogs, of her 4th grade student.

Derby said the district has money set aside to install AC at the three schools.

"They were in the cycle to have it [installed] this past summer. But because of inflation and supply and demand, we were not able to proceed with those three schools."

Derby said the bids to install AC at Novato High and Lu Sutton Elementary came in far over budget. The district had set aside $5 million for the project. The lowest bid came in at $7.5 million.

The plan now, she said, is to start the whole bidding process over again this spring, and hopefully have air conditioning installed by next summer.

"We don't have a choice right now," Derby said. "We're in a terrible week. We need to stay in, stay cool and be well."

Other schools in the Novato Unified School District will implement a heat plan, which means limited recess activities or recess indoors. P.E. classes also may be held indoors or rescheduled, And athletic activities and practices may be canceled district wide.

On Monday, temperatures in Novato peaked at around 108 degrees, just before 4 p.m. Temps should remain in the triple digits throughout the rest of the week.