Assemblyman to Probe Stalled NJ School Projects

The chairman of the New Jersey Assembly Education Committee said he plans to hold investigative hearings in February about why the Christie Administration has begun so few school construction and repair projects.

"It’s an absolute disgrace that the School Development Authority has not started construction on even one school in the state of New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-East Brunswick), who chairs the Education Committee.

The New Jersey Schools Development Authority has spent $50 million a year running its agency, Diegnan said.

The SDA had so many problems when Christie took office that it first had to first change the way building projects were evaluated, according to its spokeswoman Kristin MacLean.  

But Diegnan doesn't accept that explanation.

“Two years to straighten it out and they still have not started construction on one school in New Jersey?” Diegnan said. “They've put on a few roofs, done a few safety and health issues. It's just incomprehensible to me.”

The Education Law Center in Newark said hundreds of school building and repair projects in the state's low-income cities are shovel-ready but stalled. The center is well known for its advocacy for state funding of low-income school districts and has won a series of lawsuits against the state over the past 20 years.  

The organization is calling for an investigation and says it may sue the state if building projects do not begin soon.