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State Auditor Says Efficiency May Be Trumping Educational Need at SDA

Critics say report reinforces their claims that authority is leaving students stranded in substandard schools.

A State Auditor report in 2010 gave the Christie administration the evidence it needed to revamp the way the Schools Development Authority (SDA) prioritizes construction projects in New Jersey's highest-poverty districts.

According to the report, the rankings under the Corzine administration had been ill-advised in several regards.

Now the auditor's office is back with a new report. It credits the SDA with improving its ranking system but points out it may have an unintended consequence: more pressing projects that don't lend themselves to standardized designs are put on hold.

That finding has only added to the growing criticism of the authority's glacial pace of projects. The SDA has yet to start any new construction in the 31 districts falling under the $8 billion program ordered by the Abbott v. Burke school equity case a decade ago.

The State Auditor, a branch of the legislature, said in its report released Friday that the SDA had crafted a new system in its latest capital plan that was an improvement from the previous plan, following criteria based on both educational need and efficiency.

Continue reading this story in NJ Spotlight.

NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. It is non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded.

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