It’s a little after noon Friday, and the 30 or so eighth-grade students in an Ilima Intermediate School classroom are busy working in teams on their first-quarter project: an assignment to reinvent their favorite songs with lyrics about plate tectonics.

But these middle-schoolers have more to contend with than science lessons about the Earth’s crust.

The temperature in the room — referred to by some as “the desert” — is in the low-90s. Photos taken on a thermal-imaging camera, however, show certain parts of the room reaching more than 101 degrees.

Teacher Diana Chun says it’s even worse when the projector is on; sometimes she leaves the lights off during the entire class period to keep the space as cool as possible.

And this day, say a number of students and teachers, is one of the coolest they’ve had this school year.

Meanwhile, the state appears to be making little headway on efforts to bring air conditioning to more schools


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