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Chicago is launching what authorities here are billing as an innovative, $30 million project to end the waves of annual shooting deaths of student-age children that have been both a tragedy and an embarrassment for the city.

Chicago is launching what authorities here are billing as an innovative, $30 million project to end the waves of annual shooting deaths of student-age children that have been both a tragedy and an embarrassment for the city. The nation’s third largest school district will target 1,200 high schoolers it identified as most at risk to become gunshot victims, including by hooking them up with full-time mentors and part-time jobs to keep them off the streets, said Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman. "This is costing a tremendous amount of money, but for this group of students we believe are at substantial risk of being shot, we don’t have a choice," the onetime police officer said as he unveiled the plan on Thursday. In 2008, more than 30 students were killed, according to district figures. The city is on track to exceed that toll this year. School authorities drew up the new plan after analyzing the profiles of students shot over the past several years. They found that about 80 percent of the shootings involved students at 38 of 89 high schools in the district. Schools with the lowest number of victims tended to spend more on counselors and social workers, as well as on training for security workers. Based on a range of factors and probability equations, the data crunchers concluded that 200 of the 1,200 students targeted by the plan are particularly vulnerable — with a better than 20 percent chance of getting shot someday. Some of the money will also pay for more security guards and for providing safe passage for students forced to go to and from school through areas with active street gangs. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Content. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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