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C. Castle

School Board Keeps Mel's Fish Cool

"Putting fish first." That can be the school board's motto when it comes to deciding which classrooms in the district get coveted and rare air conditioning.

"Helping celebrity causes" could be a close runner-up.

Movie star and parent Mel Gibson recently decided to help out his kids' school by raising $70,000 for fish tanks. Unfortunately the tanks presence in the marine science lab at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu raised the room's heat and humidity to "consistently uncomfortable levels," according to a staff report.

Coming to the aid of Gibson's fish was the school board. The board voted unanimously Thursday night to make an exception to district rules, which deny air conditioning for existing and new classrooms.

While the fish and their Malibu students keep cool, kids taking classes in the Stillman Technology Lab at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica's Sunset Park neighborhood will still have to work in sweltering conditions.

Ed Jacobs, the school's technology coordinator, wrote to the school board asking for air conditioning in the school's computer labs, where temperatures can reach more than 90 degrees.

"This is not a safe environment for the students or the hardware," Jacobs wrote in a letter to the board dated Oct. 21. "The use of fans to cool the room is not recommended because particles of dust from the outside get sucked into the computers."

In addition, rooms 26 and 27 in the music building at John Adams have been without air conditioning since 1985. The rooms have no windows.

While schools of Malibu fish swim in air-conditioned comfort, the choir at Lincoln Middle School must sweat through their rehearsals, lest they open the windows and choke on exhaust fumes or open the door and drown out neighboring classes. The Pico neighborhood school's request didn't even make the priority list and was turned down.

The board did, however, make exceptions for air conditioning in second floor classrooms at Franklin Elementary and for yet-to-be-built classrooms at SAMOHI.

The air conditioning to keep Mel's fish cool will be paid for by the State Facility Program.

Why McKeown Wasn't at Hayden Fundraiser

Where was Kevin McKeown, we asked in a recent column, when the councilman joined his colleagues in their conspicuous absence and State Sen. Tom Hayden's fundraiser/going-away party.

The answer should have been obvious. The council liaison to the Planning Commission was - well - at the Planning Commission hearing.

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