Summer is going to last a little longer for students at Yankton’s Sacred Heart Schools.

Due to air-conditioning issues at the elementary school campus located at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, school officials have decided to hold off the start of classes, which were scheduled to start Monday, until Tuesday, Sept. 3.

 “We were having very high humidity in the building … We had so much moisture and we were concerned about it coming up through the foundation,” said Father Scott Traynor, who serves as superintendent of Sacred Heart Schools. “But we discovered that four of the six rooftop (air conditioning) units in the classroom wing all died at the same time.”

He said two of the four 10-ton air-conditioner units had compressor issues while the other two had Freon-leak issues.

“They are 15 or 18 years old and at the window of the end of their lifetime,” Traynor said. “For them to all fail at the same time and to have failed while we were doing prep for the new school year, we got into an (unfortunate) situation.”

The estimated cost of replacing the units is about $51,000 and it will not happen until the week of Aug. 26, Traynor said.

Elementary school students (grades preK-4) attend the St. Benedict campus, while grades 5-8 attend school at the Sacred Heart Church campus.

 “We were trying to figure out every way not to have to delay the start of school,” Traynor said. “But, with the regular maintenance that goes on to get the building and the classrooms ready for the start of school, that wasn’t able to be done because of the high humidity.

“Instead of trying to start grades 5-8 and still have the pre-K through (grade) 4 kids not in school, we judged it would be least disruptive to families to start all at the same time, the day after Labor Day.”

Total expected enrollment at the two campuses for the start of the school year is 326 students. Traynor noted that 189 families send kids to Sacred Heart, some to both campuses.  

Families were notified Wednesday of the change.

Traynor said the delay will add a couple of days at the end of the regular school year. He noted that the normal schedule already had extra days and hours built into it.

He added that the unexpected change in schedule actually provides a nostalgic touch to the school’s anniversary year.

“This year is the 135th anniversary of Sacred Heart Schools in Yankton, and we’re kind of going ‘old school’ — starting after Labor Day,” Traynor said.

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