Sunday, June 16

Chicago Schools Set to Cool Down as Mayor Emanuel Orders AC Installation

Long afternoons in classrooms are even tougher for kids when the temperature rises. It can be hard enough for kids to focus and stay productive in the classroom when they are comfortable. But now, in order to make sure heat never slows kids down, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered Chicago Public Schools to begin installing air conditioners in every classroom by this summer.

Over the course of the next five years, according to a spokesperson from the mayor’s office, all of the more than 200 schools that do not have air conditioning in every classroom will. Though it is unclear exactly how much the project will cost as of now, it will be paid for through the CPS capital budget.

Currently, 324 of more than 500 schools in the CPS system have full air conditioning. Of the 206 that do not, 162 have partial AC and 44 have none at all.

“Anythings possible if you have enough money and enough people to do it,” explains Jeff Vitt, Vice President of Vitt Heating and Air Conditioning. “These projects are typically done when schools are on summer break. That could be very tough to accomplish in five years.”

Emanuel is getting support from other leaders, including Ald. Latasha Thomas who chairs the City Council Education Committee.

“My whole take is to make sure that the environment that the students are supposed to learn in is comfortable for them to learn in,” she said. “So when we use our capital dollars, we need to make sure the environment is in top shape.”

Last year, under Emanuel’s direction, CPS installed air conditioning systems in 70 different schools, including 55 “welcoming schools” that hosted students from nearly 50 others that had closed due to under-enrollment.

It will be difficult to determine whether or not the public approves of the upgrades until the cost of the project is released. However, most every kid will agree that air conditioning units are more than welcome in their schools. They’ll help make grueling afternoons somewhat more tolerable.

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