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Contact: Janet Thompson
Rich Vespucci
For Release: April 9, 2001

$523 million School Construction Plan Approved For Elizabeth

Education Commissioner Vito A. Gagliardi, Sr. today announced the approval of a

long-range school construction plan for Elizabeth that calls for an investment of $523 million in state funds to improve the city’s schools.

"The approval of the long-range facilities plan is a major advancement in improving the learning environment for the children of Elizabeth from preschool through high school," said Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco. "The investment we are making in repairing and rebuilding schools in Elizabeth and around the state is an investment in building a brighter future for our children."

"Elizabeth is the fourth largest school district in New Jersey and has some of the oldest school facilities," said Dr. Gagliardi. "The plan I approved will pave the way for the construction of more than 20 new schools and extensive renovations to other school facilities. These far-reaching improvements will provide safe and modern schools for all the children of Elizabeth."

Elizabeth has projected that its school district enrollment will increase from 19,924 students to 26,113 in five years.

Elizabeth’s plan provides for:

üConstruction of three new preschools on new sites;
üAdditions to eight elementary schools;
üRenovations to seven elementary schools;
üDemolition of one elementary school;
üConversion of three middle schools to schools serving preschool through eighth grade;
üConstruction of 15 new elementary/middle schools at new sites to serve preschool through eighth grade;
üReplacement of one existing elementary/middle school;
üConversion of three existing middle schools to elementary/middle schools serving preschool through eighth grade;
üConstruction of two new high schools on new sites;
üDemolition of one high school; and
üReplacement of one high school.

In the eight months since the Educational Facilities and Construction Financing Act was signed into law, the Department of Education has approved school construction plans totaling more than $6.7 billion for 26 Abbott school districts including Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Trenton, Keansburg, Bridgeton, Harrison, Burlington City, Hoboken, Perth Amboy, Long Branch, Irvington, Plainfield, Vineland, Phillipsburg, Millville, Neptune, Orange, Pemberton, Garfield, West New York, East Orange, Asbury Park, Passaic and Union City. In addition, the Department has approved $650 million in critical health and safety improvements for Abbott school districts.

Under the law, the state will finance all eligible school construction costs in the 30 Abbott school districts, including Elizabeth. After gaining approval of their long-range facilities plans, school districts must then submit individual plans for each school construction project first to the Department of Education and then to the Economic Development Authority for approval.