SDA Releases List of Emergent School Repair Projects

By David Cruz

The state’s Schools Development Authority (SDA) says it’s beginning work on close to 80 so-called “emergent” repair projects in some of New Jersey’s most needy school districts. SDA CEO Marc Larkins announced the list in Harrison this morning. Washington Middle School in Harrison is one of the initial 76 projects in 68 schools in 21 school districts across the state.

“We have some structural issues as well as some issues in our mechanical room and that has led to some water damage in some of the locker rooms,” said Harrison Superintendent of Schools James Doran. “We are going to have those areas fixed.”

But the agency, which has been best known for blowing billions of dollars on construction projects that never got done, has been forced to answer doubters.

Larkins said work is proceeding.

“Things are happening right now,” he said “I know that there are critics out there who think they should have happened yesterday, but since we’ve been there we’ve been really diligent about moving work.”

Larkins said the agency has completed over 32 emergent projects, which he said “doesn’t sound like a lot” but represents major school facilities improvements.

Larkins said the SDA got over 700 requests for emergent repairs from schools across the state. Larkins says his agency had to whittle that number down to 300 and then, finally to today’s announced 76. Among the projects are 31 in Newark, including Arts High, which needs extensive structural work and Dayton Street Elementary, which needs a new roof.

The Newark-based Education Law Center is planning a lawsuit to push the state into action. They had no comment on today’s announcement, but say they’ll wait to see if the announcement results in actual work beginning.