Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, New Jersey Public Radio
Nancy Solomon is the Managing Editor of New Jersey Public Radio.
Governor Chris Christie announced plans Wednesday to build 20 new schools in New Jersey to address overcrowding and crumbling buildings in low-income school districts.
Of the 20 new school buildings announced, construction will likely begin on four of them by the end of the year, according to the CEO of the Schools Development Authority, Marc Larkins. It takes about a year to design a new school and two to three years to build it, he said.
The Schools Development Authority has come under fire recently for scrapping shovel-ready projects and only beginning construction on a handful of new schools since the governor took office two years ago. But Christie says that delay was necessary to reform a corrupt and mismanaged SDA. The SDA is the state agency that is responsible for building and repairing schools where the local district can’t afford to do it.
“We’ve done this by prioritizing school projects in an objective way, bringing increased accountability to the process and eliminating the wasteful spending habits of the past,” Christie said.
It was reauthorized and funded by the New Jersey Legislature in 2008, and given an additional $3.9 billion, but Christie took office on the heels of an audit that revealed many problems with the agency. He suspended most of the projects until reform could take place, he said.
The Education Law Center in Newark recently threatened to sue the Christie administration for neither building in low-income communities nor making emergency repairs that have been requested. The advocacy group said Christie wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars by cancelling projects that were already designed and ready to go.
The 2012 Project Portfolio
Projects addressing high educational priority needs, representing a state investment of almost $675 million:
Projects addressing high educational priority needs that require further discussions with the District:
Projects that address serious facility deficiencies: