Change sought in school-use gauge


February 23, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun Reporter

Members of the state committee that recommends funding for school construction praised yesterday a proposal that would account for community services in determining how many students a building can accommodate.

Although a vote won't be taken until April 29, committee members spoke favorably of changing the state's space calculation formula, a move that could decrease the number of schools the city school board would need to close next year.

With room for tens of thousands more students than are enrolled, the city school board is reducing its operating space by 15 percent over three years. The state has threatened to cut off money to the city for school renovations if the system does not operate more efficiently.

Any change in the calculation formula would not be made in time to factor into next week's planned city school board vote on the second of three annual rounds of closings.

David Lever, executive director of the state's public school construction program, said during yesterday's meeting that using schools for community services is a "terrific concept." Community schools provide social services to students and families in the same complex.

"It's one way to use the capital investment more efficiently," Lever said.

The proposal was submitted by City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke on behalf of community school advocates.

This school year, 27 city schools are operating as community schools. If the committee approves the proposal, the change will be voted on by the state Board of Public Works.

"We really ought to be encouraging these school uses," committee member Tim Maloney said during the meeting.

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