Education chiefs in Sandwell have been given until April 11 to explain why a £138 million school building scheme should go ahead after all.
Education Secretary Michael Gove set the deadline as he pledged to take a serious look at whether to resurrect the school refurbishment proposals, after controversially scrapping them last year.
The change of heart has been forced on Mr Gove by a court ruling, which found his decision to halt the Building Schools for the Future programme in Sandwell and five other areas was “unlawful”.
A high court judge criticised the Education Secretary for failing to consult the councils properly.
Judge Mr Justice Holman also criticised him for failing to examine whether the decision would disadvantage some sections of the community, such as ethnic minorities, more than others.
Mr Gove was ordered to consider the decisions again - but there is no guarantee he will change his mind and decide they should go ahead after all.
It means that nine schools in Sandwell are waiting to learn whether long-awaited refurbishment work will take place.
They are Stuart Bathurst Catholic School, Bristnall Hall, Heathfield, The Meadows, the KS4 and Therapeutic Units, Perryfields, Wood Green, Menzies High School Science College and Manor Foundation Business Enterprise and Sports College.
Mr Gove said he would summon council officials and local MPs to visit his offices in London to put their case to him.
In a statement to the House of Commons, he said: “The local authorities have been given a deadline of April 11 to return their representations to the department.”
Mr Gove also told MPs: “I will consider carefully the information that the local authorities provide. Local authority officers and relevant elected members and Members of Parliament will be invited to attend a meeting at the department.
“These meetings will allow the local authorities to discuss the information they have provided in more depth and allow them to make further representations on issues that they consider need particular attention.”
The court ruling followed Mr Gove’s decision last July to cancel the £47 billion Building Schools for the Future programme set up by Labour. The programme was designed to rebuild every school in the country, paid for largely through complicated loan agreements with private sector developers.