Larkins told to explain how 10 projects were chosen

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman instructed Schools Development Authority Executive Director Marc Larkins to provide to the Education Committee specific written narratives on how SDA decided which schools construction proposals made their list of 10 approved projects.

At the close of a three-hours-plus hearing Tuesday at which Larkins was questioned heavily about the methodology used in deciding which projects to green-light, committee members expressed some frustration and surprise upon realizing that just because projects made that top-10 list does not mean they are shovel ready.

“I’m not telling you there is a time frame,’’ Larkins informed Coleman who was sitting in as the committee chair for this hearing.

And because he did not have a time frame, Coleman – who has long been displeased that Trenton Central High School somehow was left off the projects list – told Larkins that she wants him to supply to the committee written narratives for each of the top 10 schools projects and how they decided to include them on the list.

The projects are:

Academic Magnet High School in Elizabeth; Catrambone Elementary School in Long Branch; Cherry Street Elementary School in Bridgeton; PS 20 Elementary School and Elementary School 3 in Jersey City; A. Chester Redshaw Elementary School in New Brunswick; Oliver Street Elementary School in Newark; Marshall & Hazel Elementary School and PS 16 Elementary School in Paterson; and Harry L. Bain Elementary School in West New York.

Larkins, who said the total cost of those 10 projects will be $584 million,  said he could not understand why anyone was misled into thinking that any or all of those top 10 projects would be started within a year.

Larkins said that when he stood beside Gov. Chris Christie when the projects were announced, “he was crystal clear. Why anyone would think they were ready to go is beyond me.”

Elease Evans, (D-35), Paterson was particularly outraged. “Why give us false belief,’’ she asked Larkins, when she said it could turn out that the projects could be delayed for years and costs could rise even higher.

Larkins told to explain how 10 projects were chosen