The Providence School Board has set aside $20,000 for a possible legal fight of a court ruling banning prayer at school graduations. But the board chairman denied Wednesday that a decision had been made to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Utah officials, battling a similar suit, have talked about filing a brief supporting the Providence School Board if it decides to appeal."We hope that they go forward with their appeal. Their appeal is framed broadly enough to cover the critical issues in Utah's controversy so we can get the issue resolved without using unnecessary amounts of Utahns' time, money or good will," said Bud Scruggs, chief of staff for Gov. Norm Bangerter.

According to Providence School Board Chairman Vincent C. McWilliams, the board has contacted an attorney in Washington "who is reviewing our documents and briefs and thinks we'd have a good case. But we have not made a decision at this point."

The attorney, Charles Cooper, said Wednesday, however, that he has been told by the School Board to proceed with the appeal.

"We are examining the decisions from below and preparing a petition to the Supreme Court," Cooper said in a telephone interview.

Cooper said he had asked for a 60-day extension of the 90-day deadline for filing the appeals, which would be Monday. He refused to comment on specifics of the case, saying he and other attorneys were just beginning to develop their arguments.

The Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union accused the School Board of violating the state's open meetings law, which prohibits a public board from making decisions in private.