NORMAL - No sweat. That was Mitzi Woody's goal for Unit 5 elementary students. And with determination, she leads the way to cool schools. Woody saw her kindergarten class, year after year, melting in the high temperatures in their Fairview Elementary classrooms and knew that students in five other Unit 5 schools had the same problem.
She founded the "Junkyard Dog Air Conditioning Committee," symbolizing an issue the group had taken hold of and wasn't going to let go.
What really set Woody off was being told that it couldn't be done. She may wear playful earrings and seasonal sweaters for her kindergarten kids, but watch out when she sets her mind on something.
She kept a temperature diary to show how hot the classroom got. As her efforts gathered steam, parents and staff provided statistics and information to back up her concerns.
At the Dec. 14 school board meeting, the board agreed to spend $65,100 to put in temporary window air conditioners until a complete system can be installed in Brigham, Carlock, Fairview and Hudson schools.
The board also approved spending nearly $1.4 million for long-term heating and cooling projects next summer, mostly at Glenn and Oakdale elementary schools.
The air conditioning and other changes will help Unit 5 provide equitable learning environments for all district students, said Scott Lay, board president.
The district is always appreciative of interest shown, said John Pye, assistant superintendent of operations and human resources.
"It turned out to be a good collaborative effort," he said. "The end result was positive for staff and students."
Woody likely won't slip into the woodwork even though the campaign to get air conditioning has been successful. She recognizes new schools and additions must be built to accommodate the growth in the district, but notes the old school buildings must remain up-to-date.
"We value our existing buildings and know we'll need them for a growing population," Pye said. "We are constantly looking at our current buildings."