Construction Plan Behind Schedule

Thu August 30, 2007 - Midwest Edition

CLEVELAND (AP) A construction plan approved by the Cleveland School District is at least a year behind schedule and facing budget overruns because of skyrocketing costs, a newspaper reported Aug. 11.

The report by the Bond Accountability Commission, which oversees implementation of the district’s master plan, was obtained by The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. The report was scheduled to be released Aug. 13, the newspaper reported.

“The program is at a critical stage if it is to catch up to its original timetable,” wrote Jim Darr, administrator of the Bond Accountability Commission.

The original 12-year plan, devised under former schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, called for projects in 111 buildings, although new superintendent Eugene Sanders is expected to greatly reduce the scope of the plan.

“The project, in our opinion, was behind all along,” said Dan Burns, the district’s chief operating officer. “We have been scrambling to get the project back on schedule.”

According to the commission’s report, nine new elementary schools that are still in the bidding phase already are $23 million over budget. Another segment of the project that calls for construction or renovation of 11 schools could run $37 million over budget if cost cutting measures aren’t taken.

Inflation and rising materials prices were not figured into original estimates for the projects, Burns said.