Summer break is short this year in the Verona Area School District, but Mother Nature might have its own plans.
The extended hot weather could make this summer’s addition of building wide air conditioning at Stoner Prairie Elementary School and Badger Ridge Middle school all the more important when students return Aug. 23.
Those two projects, along with additional security doors at BRMS and HVAC and electrical upgrades at Verona Area High School, were the major renovation work around the district this year. Next summer is expected to be busier, with extra time built in to allow for classroom remodeling and building moves as the new high school opens and other schools shift.
The air conditioning could have an effect on student performance, according to a working paper issued in May 2018 by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Four researchers showed “the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect,” according to the paper’s summary.
Using student scores on the PSAT, a high school standardized test, they showed that “hotter school days in the year prior to the test reduce learning, with extreme heat being particularly damaging” for low income and minority students.
“New data providing the first measures of school-level air conditioning penetration across the U.S. suggest such infrastructure almost entirely offsets these effects,” the summary states. “Without air conditioning, each 1 (degree Fahrenheit) increase in school year temperature reduces the amount learned that year by 1%.”
Next year’s planned renovations include adding classroom sinks and toilets for some rooms at Badger Ridge, which will become Sugar Creek Elementary School in fall 2020. Rooms will also be renovated to become art, music, makerspace and large-group instruction rooms.
Expected work on the K-Wing includes getting a secure entrance, classroom modifications, restroom renovations and some classroom sinks. That building will be home to the New Century School and Verona Area International School charters.
The current high school building, which Badger Ridge and Core Knowledge Charter School will move into, is set to get an additional secure entrance, some classroom remodeling and renovations to add an elementary library and cafeteria.
For updates and information on the renovation and new high school project, visit verona.k12.wi.us.