Rice: We Need To Move Faster In Building New Schools

TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice, Chair of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools, made the following statement today after the Committee heard testimony from representatives of the Schools Construction Corporation (SCC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the status of pending school construction projects:

“The main thing that I am concerned with is the time frame in which these schools will be built. The Administration has been moving in the right track with the SCC and improving its accountability, but now they need to move on funding the schools we have promised to build.

“I’ve given the SCC 21 days to get back to the Committee with the expected costs for the 59 projects they have committed to fund, as well as any projects that are ready to go right now but are not on the approved list.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out these costs, and we need to move forward with these projects fast. As much as the costs seem high today to build these schools, they will become twice as much if we delay.

“There are many who feel that Governor Corzine has been helpful in reforming the SCC, but there are also many of us who feel he’s a barrier to the process of getting these schools started this year. This might be a tight budget for the Governor, but he can’t avoid building these schools because of it, especially when we are spending hundreds of millions on stem cell research and mental health without hesitation.

“In the future, the Joint Committee on the Public Schools will meet more often to oversee the progress of the State’s school construction program. We will meet again soon to discuss with the Education Commissioner ways to fund these projects.”