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Sneed: A/C in schools could help cool summer violence

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy  |  Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy | Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

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Updated: May 25, 2014 3:48PM

The shooting season . . .

Memo to detractors giving Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to provide air conditioning for every Chicago Public School classroom the cold shoulder:

Ya gotta be kidding!

It’s too expensive, you say?

It’s too costly to fully air-condition the 206 city school buildings that don’t have it?

What price does one put on the life of a child when hot weather fuels violence?

What price is too high to for preventing a child from getting killed?

Here’s a cold, hard fact: In addition to the recent uptick in shooting deaths driving Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy ballistic — 42,000 kids attend CPS summer school and other programs each summer, often a safer alternative to the street.

“There are more people out on the street in the summer, which can lead to more opportunities for confrontations or violence,” McCarthy told Sneed.

“Summer programming in a cool environment provides young people with positive ways to focus their energy, and is an important part of preventing violence and protecting public safety,” he said.

The list of programs range from high school credit recovery and acceleration to Step Up to Kindergarten programs.

“The mayor’s belief is that he will take whatever political heat so students and teachers are cool on the warm days,” a mayoral source said.

“Whether it’s summer school, a job, or an activity program, keeping kids active, learning and off the streets in a cool, safe, and productive place over the summer will ensure they have a great, safe summer when the temperature starts to rise,” the source said.

Sneed is told that 35 CPS principals have signed on to a letter thanking Emanuel for prioritizing the health of teachers and students.

“At the beginning and end of each school year, temperatures of over 100 degrees have been registered inside our classrooms, which naturally bring effective teaching and learning to a halt,” the letter reads. “Until now, our choices have been either to suffer with the heat or attempt fundraising drives within our communities to fund partial air conditioning for our classrooms.”

Shockingly, the debate over air conditioning the city’s school began in 1962, when the Chicago School Board gave a hot foot to cool schools.

Then-Schools Supt. Benjamin C. Willis, who supported the plan, predicted that most of the schools would be air-conditioned in five years.

If Emanuel has his way, Willis’ prediction may finally come true.

Pix place . . .

Click. Click. Check out the power table at Gibsons Steakhouse on Monday night celebrating the 25th anniversary of what the Zagat guide calls the most iconic restaurant in Chicago: Former Mayor Richard M. Daley; attorney Terry Newman; sports impresario Jerry Reinsdorf; Gibsons owner Steve Lombardo; Gibsons managing partner John Colletti; Mayor Rahm Emanuel; real estate exec Bob Judelson; Hyatt hotel honcho Patrick Donnelly; and Patrick Daley, the former mayor’s son.

◆ “It was a gathering of customers who helped us out when we began 25 years ago,” said Colletti, who added that it’s the only restaurant group in the nation to have its own USDA prime meat: Gibsons Prime Angus Beef.

◆ P.S. Nice to see Daley — who celebrates his 72nd birthday on Thursday — back at his usual haunts since his release from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in February after treatment for a stroke.

Sneedlings . . .

Thursday’s birthdays: Barbra Streisand, 72, and Shirley MacLaine, 80.

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