Education Commissioner David Hespe today approved long-term facilities plans for Paterson, Newark and four other Abbott school districts that call for investing more than $2.7 billion in rebuilding and renovating schools.
The approvals granted to Newark, Paterson, Millville, Orange, Phillipsburg and Neptune pave the way for the school districts to receive full state support for their comprehensive school construction improvements.
Newark, the largest school district in the state with a projected enrollment in five years of 43,000 students, received approval for an estimated $1.6 billion in school building improvements including:
Eight new elementary schools on new sites;
Newark currently has 80 schools including 23 elementary schools, 38 elementary/middle schools, four middle schools, two special education schools, 11 high schools, one leased high school and one vacant school. The long-range facilities plan calls for 72 schools including 26 elementary schools, 23 elementary/middle schools, nine middle schools, two special education schools and 12 high schools.
Paterson, with a projected enrollment in five years of 26,000 students, received approval to move forward with an estimated $734 million in school construction projects including:
Paterson currently has 32 elementary schools, four high schools and seven academies operating in leased space.
In the six months since the Educational Facilities and Construction Financing Act was signed into law, the Department of Education has approved over $5.2 billion in critically needed school construction projects involving more than 200 school districts across New Jersey.
"The plans approved today will make a dramatic improvement in the quality of education provided to children in some of our largest cities," Commissioner Hespe said. "The far-reaching construction plans will lay the foundation for tens of thousands of children to move out of antiquated and overcrowded schools and into new, modern facilities."
The Commissioner also approved the following long-range facilities plans:
"The school construction program continues to move forward on several fronts," Hespe said. "Not only are we keeping our commitment to urban schools, we are providing financial support to suburban and rural districts for school improvement projects that are already being built or ready to go to construction."
In addition to the approvals announced today, the Department of Education has approved $657 million in state funds to help finance more than 414 school construction projects in 172 school districts that have already been completed or under construction now. The total cost of these projects is estimated at $1.9 billion. Under the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act, these projects are eligible for state funding covering at least 40 percent of eligible project costs.
In addition, Department of Education has given its approval to invest $260 million in state funds to help finance 71 school improvement projects that are ready to proceed to construction. These projects, which total $643 million and involve 71 school districts, have already won the approval of local voters in school construction referenda. Under the law, the state will pay for at least 40 percent of the eligible project costs.
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