HERE'S another category in which Baltimore City Public...

Salmagundi

November 04, 1993

HERE'S another category in which Baltimore City Public Schools trail the state's wealthy school districts:

Air conditioning.

Why is that important? Because Gov. William Donald Schaefer, to save money on school construction, is flirting with the idea of all-year schooling in Maryland. Air conditioning thus becomes an important consideration in a state with summer weather characteristics that are more Southern than Northern.

The Maryland State Teachers Association, basing observations on a survey by the Enterprise newspaper in St. Mary's County, says only 88 of Baltimore's 179 schools are air conditioned.

Seventy of 120 in Anne Arundel County and 56 of 57 in Howard County have air, and the 57th is partially air conditioned. Ninety-eight of Baltimore County's 157 schools have full or partial air conditioning, while all 179 Montgomery County schools and 165 of 180 Prince George's County schools have full or partial air. And all 13 schools in Worcester County, the state's richest because of the property values in Ocean City, are fully air conditioned.

The sweat factor isn't the only thing to discuss at a conference on year-round schools the governor has called (at a site to be determined) Nov. 20. Work and vacation schedules of parents have to be considered, not to mention teachers' compensation and the cost of transportation.

But air conditioning is surely a major factor (though generations somehow survived hot spring and autumn school days with none but Mother Nature's natural zephyrs). Don't students in Baltimore City, Talbot (five of 10 schools with air) and Wicomico (nine of 24) deserve the same summer coolness as their peers in Montgomery and Howard?

And if air conditioning has to be installed to "equalize" summer schooling, what will that do to any construction cost savings in using buildings year-round?

The MSTA says wisely that the primary consideration in moving to all-year schools must be an educational one. If the governor's proposal is simply another way to shift school costs to local governments -- without any educational benefit -- it should be rejected out of hand.

* * *

A NEW publication called "The Urban Age," published at the World Bank, devotes the Summer 1993 issue, just out, to urban violence. It contains these facts:

Since 1991, 98 death squad members have been arrested in Rio de Janeiro, 38 of them military policemen.

There are five private guards for every police officer in Bogota.

In 1990, 22 people were killed by handguns in Britain, 13 in Sweden, 91 in Switzerland, 87 in Japan, 68 in Canada and 10,557 in the United States.

The murder rate in Russia is twice that in the U.S.

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