The Corner

Shovel-Ready Project in the Basement

It’s a broiling 97-degree day in New York today, and 36 per cent of city schools have no air conditioning. Among them is this Brooklyn middle school, which has plenty of air conditioners – in the basement:

Earlier this school year, workers discovered 10 unopened boxes of air-conditioner units in the basement, said Deanna Sinito, the principal of New Horizons, in Carroll Gardens. School officials and the Education Department could not say how long the air-conditioners had been there and do not agree on how they got there. (The company that makes the air-conditioners said they were manufactured in 2009…)

Around the time Ms. Sinito started at New Horizons as an assistant principal in 2007, the elementary school had been rewired and air-conditioning was installed in its classrooms. According to her recollection, the middle school was rewired later, but air-conditioning was not installed… According to Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the department, the units were bought by New Horizon, but its wiring is not capable of running them.

“At this school, the air-conditioning units purchased by the school require more power than the building can hold,’’ she said.

Oh. Is there perhaps a non-air-conditioned middle school in Queens whose rewiring is compatible with the Brooklyn air conditioners and accidentally ordered a basement full of Brooklyn-compatible air conditioners? Aw, it’s a hot day. Who wants to be moving stuff up from the basement?

I like the Education Department’s rationale:

The school has 18 classrooms. If the 10 units in storage are used, that would leave the children and teachers in the other 8 rooms uncomfortable on hot days.

Better a thousand kids fry than that a privileged few chill. As Alfred the Butler observed to Batman a movie or two back, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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