Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will scale back its $33.7 million school safety plan to ensure that two new elementary schools and other 2007 bond projects are not delayed, Superintendent Heath Morrison said Friday.

The first thing to go will be $13 million for building 8-foot chain-link fences, Morrison said. Some new fencing could be part of future bond plans.

Morrison said he and his staff did not understand that the spending for safety upgrades, including cameras, fences and buzz-in entry systems, would delay other projects promised when voters approved $517 million in school bonds. The school board approved the spending plan 7-0 Tuesday night after CMS staff repeatedly assured them it would not affect the other projects.

At a county commissioners meeting earlier that day, CMS Chief Operating Officer Millard House said there would be no effect on other projects. Mecklenburg County Finance Director Dena Diorio stood up and corrected him, saying the spending would force delays in other projects.

But Morrison said Friday that House, who started with CMS this summer, was busy making notes and did not grasp what Diorio had said.

The delays came to light the next day, when the Observer asked Diorio to elaborate. Projects that could have been delayed a year included stadium improvements at three high schools and construction of two elementary schools to relieve crowding at Highland Creek and Hickory Grove schools.

Some board members said this week they would not have supported a plan that delayed projects they had promised to voters. The recession has already slowed the pace of construction and renovations.

Morrison said once he realized there was a misunderstanding, he met with Jones to ensure that they could create a revised plan that would not stall any other work. The CMS board will consider the new plan on March 12 and commissioners will vote on it March 19, he said.

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