Board To Vote On School Construction

CLEVELAND (AP) - The city school board this week will decide how to spend $1 billion to rebuild the system's dilapidated schools.

"We're certainly at a point where we are making some decisions about the school district and the city that will affect this city for years and years and years to come," said the board's chairman, Hilton Smith.

On Thursday, the board will gather for a third time this week to vote on a final plan to send to the state. The plan being proposed will add $712 million to the $335 million the city raised through a bond issue.

With a few exceptions, the plan the board approves will be similar to the one that the schools' chief executive officer, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, proposed in March.

It includes closing 16 schools, rebuilding 46 others, renovating 58 and adding three new ones.

Last month, Byrd-Bennett and her staff augmented that plan with 18 new options, most of which addressed public concern about planned school closings. Board members Sunday agreed to take 12 of those alternatives off the table.

"For the most part, we're in agreement and the community in general is in agreement with the plan," board member Erskine Bevel said. "I think it's significant we are already at that point."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)