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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 8, 1998


                Today, Chicago and 20 other Communities 
                hold Forums on School Construction and 
                      Report to the Vice President

                              April 8, 1998

President Clinton today is touring the Rachel Carson School in Chicago as part of a national effort to highlight the need to equip schools so that teachers can focus on teaching, and students can concentrate on learning. Chicago and 20 other sites will link by conference call today with Vice President Gore to relay the results of their community forums.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION AND MODERNIZATION IS A CRITICAL NEED. Student population is at an all-time high and continues to rise. Over the next 10 years, enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools will increase by over two million students, and the nation will need over 6,000 more schools by 2006 to serve these additional students. Also, record numbers of school buildings are in disrepair. One-third of all schools -- serving 14 million students -- need extensive repair or replacement at an average cost of $1.7 million per school.

Civil Engineers Give School Infrastructure an "F." The American Society of Civil Engineers recently issued a report card on the nation's infrastructure, and gave its only failing grade to schools.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION IS READY TO GO WHEN CONGRESS RETURNS. When Congress returns on April 20, the Senate will vote on a proposal to invest in school modernization rather than subsidizing private school spending through education savings accounts. That school modernization proposal is modeled on the President's initiative, which calls for Federal tax credits to pay interest on nearly $22 billion in bonds -- making them interest-free -- to build and renovate more than 5,000 public schools.

COMMUNITY FORUMS TODAY IN 21 CITIES. As part of an effort organized by Vice President Gore, officials and organizations across the Nation are holding community forums today and all month to highlight the need for school construction and modernization. These forums also provide parents, teachers, and others the opportunity to talk about how newly built or modernized schools can best meet the needs of their children and community (for example, schools that can accommodate smaller class sizes and the effective use of technology and be centers of community for after-school programs and other community uses).

Vice President Gore will hold a conference call today linking these forums. Many of these forums will occur today, culminating in a conference call with the Vice President, to report on the results of the forums. (1-888-836-6072, 12:00 noon Central time).

Today's forums -- all across the country: Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Des Moines, IA; San Antonio, TX; Cleveland, OH; Charlotte, NC; Hattiesburg, MS; Orlando and Miami, FL; Loudoun County, VA; Wilmington, DE; Baltimore, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; Rochester and Buffalo, NY; Paterson, NJ; Providence, RI; Portland, ME; Springfield and Salem, MA.