Saturday, February 1, 2003

Talk up school bond issue, chief asks businesses

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati's school superintendent on Friday urged business leaders inside and outside the city to tell everyone they know to support the district's bond issue for school construction if the school board places the issue on the May ballot.

Aging and outdated buildings are greatly in need of repair, schools chief Alton Frailey said.

Frailey spoke to about 90 business leaders during a luncheon sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.

He took questions about his strategies to improve academic achievement, solicit parental involvement and implement education reform in the 41,200-student district, as well as questions about the pending bond issue to build 35 new schools and renovate 31 others.

The school board is expected to vote on Feb. 10 to place the issue on the May ballot.

School officials, including Frailey, say they believe they have the support for the decade-long building project despite the failure of a $480 million issue in November. That issue was defeated by around 600 votes out of more than 90,000 cast.

"I am very optimistic," he said. "Although we were disappointed, I did not feel defeated because we lost by just 611 votes."

He said he would've been more concerned if the defeat had been by several thousand votes.

If the board agrees to place the issue back on the ballot, "We will pass that levy," Frailey said. "We will fix up the school buildings and we will maintain our school buildings."

Neil F. Tilow, president of Talbert House, asked what businesses should do to help support the issue.

"Talk it up, register to vote and tell all your friends and neighbors," he said. "Let folks know that regardless of how you feel about the conditions we've gotten into, the reality is, let's not blame these kids."

The Cincinnati schools finance committee will hold a public presentation on the bond issue 7 p.m. Thursday, at Cincinnati Public Schools Education Center, 2651 Burnet Ave., Corryville.


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