‘I’m freezing’: High school dismisses early due to building’s cold temperatures


A Kansas high school dismissed students early Wednesday afternoon due to the building’s low temperatures.

Russell High School also announced it will not hold classes on Thursday and Friday due to the cold temperatures caused by a boiler issue. 

“It should not be you’re going from a cold environment to another cold environment when you’re spending eight hours of your day there,” Russell High School junior Breana Knapp said.

Wednesday morning in Russell, it was a brisk 10 degrees outside. And inside the halls of the high school, several students said it didn’t feel much warmer.

“Everyone is cold,” junior Shayla Gould said.

“If you walk through our hallways, you’ll see people with coats on,” added Knapp. “You’ll see people bundled up with long sleeves plus a hoodie, plus a blanket.”

Bundling up so students like Breana Knapp could sit in their 50-degree classrooms and try to focus.

“Supposed to be learning, but it’s hard to learn when you’re so cold,” said Knapp.

The cold temperature is an issue she said has been going on since December.

“We have a three boiler system, and we really need a four boiler system,” said USD 407 Superintendent Shelly Swayne.

The boiler system was last replaced in 2009, and for the past three years, the school has looked into buying a fourth boiler. However, money is an issue.

“We’ve known for several years, that we really need to move to a four boiler system,” said Swayne. “But we also know we need to move into air conditioning.”

Swayne said money has been spent on repairing leaky roofs and saving up to install an air conditioning unit.

“We don’t have A/C, so our high schoolers experience extreme hot and cold,” Swayne said. “It pains us we can’t do the right thing for them in a situation like this because it’s a facility situation that just seems totally outside of our control.”

To help alleviate the cold temperatures, space heaters were given out to the classrooms, and the school suspended its handbook rules to allow students to wear blankets and winter gear inside.

With another boiler down Wednesday morning, the school is down to two, forcing them to have an early dismissal and looking at other options to keep the students safe.

Those options include:

-Starting school at a later time

-Teaching in one big, heated classroom

-Bussing kids to Fort Hays State University or North Central Kansas Tech.

“We will make sure we have kids in class and students in class,” she said. “And we’ll make sure we have them safely.”

No decisions have been made, but the school has put a special election bond on the ballot for $17.5 million to replace the boilers and A/C units.

If the bond passes in April, Swayne said it will take two years for the project.

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