Cleveland Shrinking Upgrade Plan From 111 Schools To About 80

CLEVELAND (AP) - The fast-shrinking Cleveland school system, which could decline 43 percent in less than a generation, is downsizing an ambitious construction and renovation program from 111 buildings to about 80.

The plan is fluid, according to Dan Burns, the district construction czar and chief operating officer.

"We have to make the tough decisions to deal with a loss of enrollment," Burns said. "You can't build buildings if you don't have kids."

The construction plan was detailed in 2002 when the city had a public school enrollment of 72,000. Enrollment has dropped 24 percent to 55,000 and could drop another 25 percent to 41,000 by 2015. That would amount to 43 percent decline in 13 years.

Cleveland, ranked as the nation's poorest big city by the Census Bureau, has lost enrollment due to people moving out of the city and losses to taxpayer-supported charter schools and state-financed vouchers to attend private and parochial schools.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission, which is providing 68 percent of the construction financing, has demanded changes to reflect declining student rolls.