By John Mooney
As many as one-third of education facilities in NJ are not in compliance or up to code.
With questions mounting over the slow pace of the state’s school repairs and construction, an internal report by the state Department of Education acknowledges the sorry condition of many of New Jersey’s urban schools – with as many as one-third of them not up to building code or in compliance.
The July 2013 report – “Educational Facilities Needs Assessment” (EFNA) — by the state agency’s facilities office cites an “enormous need” for repairs and expansion of facilities in the 30 school districts covered by the Abbott v. Burke court rulings that ordered more than $8 billion in school upgrades more than a decade ago.
“The 2013 EFNA continues to show enormous need in the SDA districts to address overcrowding and educational adequacy,” the report reads at one point.
The report was provided this week by the Education Law Center, the Newark advocacy group that has led the Abbott litigation. The ELC said it sought and received the report under the state’s Open Public Records Act. The group maintained that state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf had failed to publicize its findings or work with Abbott districts in developing it.
‘”It is hard to fathom how Commissioner Cerf can justify withholding from parents, concerned citizens and legislators crucial information about the health, safety and suitability of schools that thousands of urban students attend every day,” David Sciarra, the ELEC’s executive director, said in an email.