CHICAGO -- The Chicago School Finance Authority gave preliminary approval yesterday for the competitive sale of up to $250 million of general obligation refunding bonds.

William McCarthy, a managing director at Merrill Lynch & Co., the authority's financial adviser, said the authority should garner a present value savings of more than 5%, or $40 million, over the life of the 18-year bonds by going to the market now. He added that the exact savings will not be known until bids are received.

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