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The school-construction industry continued to boom in 1991, with educational institutions spending a record $17 billion on construction, according to an annual survey conducted by American School & University magazine.

Over all, spending on education construction in 1991 was up 13.7 percent over the year before, the survey found.

School districts spent $10.7 billion, a 10.7 percent increase over the previous year; $4.2 billion went for new schools, $3.6 billion for additions to existing structures, and $2.9 billion for renovations.

Two-year colleges spent $1.37 billion, an 18 percent increase over 1990 levels, and four-year colleges spent $4.9 billion, an increase of nearly 20 percent over 1990.

The magazine noted that 1990 had been considered something of an off year for school construction, with a modest 6 percent increase in spending over 1989. The latest increases in spending appeared to alleviate fears that the industry was slowing down after seven years of generally rapid growth.

The magazine said school-construction spending levels appeared last year to withstand recessionary pressures because many of last year's projects had been planned and financed during the stronger economy of the 1980's, and because many schools had to be built, regardless of the costs, to accommodate growing enrollments.

The Southeast continued to account for the largest share of education construction, with almost a quarter of the nation's education-construction dollar being spent there.

The constitutional-liberties group People for the American Way and Time-Warner Inc. have joined forces to launch a new mentoring program to promote racial tolerance among youths in the Los Angeles area in the wake of this month's civil unrest following the verdict in the Rodney King case.

"We need to act now to address the racial tensions resulting from the Los Angeles violence and rebuild the spirit of community,'' said Arthur J. Kropp, the president of People for the American Way.

Under a $100,000 grant from the media giant, the program will use students from a number of colleges and universities, including Claremont College, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California, to lead discussions about racial tolerance in high-school classrooms.

Individual schools in the district have not yet been chosen for the program, a spokesman for the organization said.

The Racial Tolerance Mentoring Project is an expansion of a pilot program used in North Carolina for the past two years.

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