TRENTON – Only two school construction projects have broken ground since the administration started, the head of the state’s Schools Development Authority told a joint legislative commission today.
SDA CEO Mark Larkins said that in addition to those projects, there have been 10 projects SDA has undertaken involving demolition and environmental remediation, among other things.
Larkins said SDA has advertised for several other projects. But in terms of hard construction, only two projects have had shovels in the ground.
The SDA has 30 capital projects in the works, worth $1.5 billion. Larkins said he expects 12 of those 30 to start construction this year.
Sen. Ron Rice, (D-28), of Newark said that ultimately, the governor holds the responsibility for school construction, adding that given this is an election year, he expects some emergent repair projects to move forward.
Sen. Donald Norcross, (D-5), of Camden, said more needs to be done.
“It’s time to actually start rolling out some of the new schools,” he said. “We all know the need is there.”
Larkins added that some 32 of 37 “emergent projects” – which can be anything from roof repairs to replacement of HVAC systems – have been completed by SDA. Also, another 35 emergent projects have been completed by the local districts.
Generally, SDA holds onto more of the expensive projects, Larkins said, while local districts do more of the minor ones.