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LONG OVERDUE RESTART OF SCHOOLS CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM WELCOME BUT WELL SHORT OF ADDRESSING NEED

Newark, NJ -- February 16, 2011

Yesterday, Governor Christopher Christie announced that the Schools Development Authority (SDA) will restart 10 school construction projects. The announcement comes after more than a year in which all projects in the former Abbott districts were halted, including emergency repairs.

The SDA was severely criticized in recent months for maintaining a staff of more than 300 while construction projects languished and students remained in outdated, inadequate and sometimes unsafe school buildings that had been slated for renovation or new construction.

Fifty-two projects had been greenlighted prior to Governor Christie's inauguration (a number of them "shovel ready"), but only 10 of those will be restarted according to a press release from the Governor's office.

"It's a shame that schoolchildren in urban districts had to wait this long for projects that have been on hold for over a year," said David G. Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center, "and there are still many other projects right behind this group that need to be done."

Under a landmark Abbott v. Burke order, the State is required to renovate and replace buildings that do not provide appropriate and safe school environments for children. The State created the SDA to meet this requirement, but the Governor put the agency's work on hold shortly after taking office.

With yesterday's announcement, work on a small percentage of needed projects will begin sometime this year. According to the press release, additional projects will have to wait until 2012, at the earliest.

"It is critical that these 10 projects move forward promptly and that the other projects that remain on the list are moved ahead as well," Sciarra said.

Education Law Center Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Policy & Outreach Coordinator
email: skrengel@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x24