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Florida school district postpones start date amid AC repairs, heat wave

Jun 13, 2023

While most Big Bend schools welcomed students back this week, Jefferson County Schools faced a hiccup that has forced opening day to be pushed back to at least Monday.

"Due to inevitable delays pertaining to the air conditioning unit repairs in progress on our main campus, the start of the school year has been postponed to Monday, August 14, 2023," Superintendent Eydie Tricquet wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday, a day before students were slated to return.

Tricquet said the air conditioning repairs have been ongoing this summer, but just as the time came for the compressors to be addressed, they fell apart. Now the Jefferson County K-12 School needs the compressors replaced before opening to students.

The repair work comes as Florida finds itself caught in an oppressive and extended heat wave that has shattered records.

Since summer began, the National Weather Service has been forced to issue seven heat warnings. Last year, forecasters only issued one the entire summer.

"I can tell you that it’s still looking pretty much like a slam dunk for excessive heat through this weekend and perhaps even into Monday," said Israel Gonzalez, a meteorologist at NWS Tallahassee. "Hazardous to dangerous conditions will sticking around for at least the next few days."

By mid-week it should tick down a little, but Gonzalez still expects there could be heat advisories.

"We're disappointed that we couldn't get started," Superintendent Tricquet told the Democrat Friday. "We're hopeful that we'll be able to start Monday and get our school year underway, because I know that students are disappointed. They're ready to get back. Parents are ready to get back to their normal routine. And we are working as hard and efficiently as we can, and I appreciate the patience and flexibility of our families."

The Title 1 district school offers grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 in Monticello.

It was announced last fall that it is being designated a community partnership school in association with the Children's Home Society. Community partnership schools aim to bring together high-quality academics, health care, counseling and mentoring into the school to serve students and parents.

According to the Department of Education, 56.1% of students are economically disadvantaged at the school.

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Alaijah Brown is with the Tallahassee Democrat and can be reached at [email protected].