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INCREASE NJ SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION FUNDS FOR ALL DISTRICTS

June 14, 2018

Education Law Center has voiced strong opposition to New Jersey legislators about Assembly Bill 3902, legislation that would authorize, upon voter approval, $1 billion in bonds to finance school facilities projects limited to county vocational school districts and security upgrades.

Instead, ELC is calling on lawmakers to begin work on comprehensive legislation to increase bond financing for school facilities construction and improvements for all school districts across the state.

ELC opposes A3902 for three main reasons:

  • The Supreme Court-ordered “Abbott School Construction Program” is out of money and unable to move any new projects forward in urban, or “SDA,” districts. The $2 billion approved by the Legislature in 2008 has been spent or earmarked for projects. But the SDA districts’ Long Range Facilities Plans, recently approved by the NJ Department of Education, identify a need for 381 additional projects, including 200 school renovations and 102 new school buildings.
  • The $1 billion authorized in 2008 to support school construction grants for all other districts, known as “Regular Operating Districts” or RODs, is also depleted. These grants augmented local funds, enabling districts to pay for needed facilities projects while minimizing the impact on property taxpayers.
  • The bill would subject bond financing for school construction to voter approval when such approval is not legally required. The Supreme Court made clear that bond financing for projects in fulfillment of the State’s constitutional obligation to provide children with a “thorough and efficient” education can be directly authorized by the Legislature.

“We recognize county vocational school districts have facilities needs, but so do the SDA districts and RODs,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “We urge legislators to set aside A3902 and work with all education stakeholders on a comprehensive bill to increase bond financing through the Schools Development Authority to meet the urgent facilities needs of all New Jersey school children.”

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24