Passaic NJ Opens New Dayton Avenue Educational Campus

Gov. Phil Murphy, along with a slew of other dignitaries, touted the school construction investment included in the 2023 budget during the grand opening of a new school in the town of Passaic on Tuesday.

This project, the Dayton Avenue Educational Campus, is one of the largest managed by the Schools Development Authority. With a price tag of nearly $241 million, it includes a 448,000 square foot campus that will house four schools.

“Every child in this state deserves a world-class education, and every child in this state deserves a world-class school in which to learn and grow, and today, here in Passaic, we are bringing those basic principles to life,” said said Murphy. . “Public education is not just a figure in the state budget to be cut at the whim of politics. Public education has become a central and fundamental investment in the social and economic future of our state.

That sentiment was echoed by SDA chief executive Manny Da Silva, who said the agency is “pleased to play a vital role in creating an environment that fosters the learning and development of future leaders. of our state”.

The project began in 2018 and has the potential to provide space for 3,000 students from kindergarten to grade eight. New schools include:

  • Abraham Lincoln School (pre-K program): 28 classrooms, three specialty rooms, and a playground in the yard.
  • Mahatma Gandhi Elementary School: 33 general classrooms, five stand-alone special education classrooms, three science labs, a media center, a music room, and a gym.
  • Ellen Ochoa Gifted and Talented Academy (magnet school program): 28 general classrooms, three stand-alone special education classrooms, three science labs, an art room, a dance studio, a vocal music room, a center multimedia, two Teach to One learning areas and a cafeteria.
  • Muhammad Ali Secondary School: 27 general classrooms, six self-contained special education classrooms, three science labs, four project labs, three Teach to One learning areas, a gym, a cafeteria, and halls classes dedicated to the arts.

Passaic is one of 31 so-called SDA districts in the state, which are generally low-income, and the agency is in charge of building schools in these districts. The authority received nearly $2 billion in the budget that was signed by Murphy earlier this summer.

The authority needs about $6.5 billion to fix overcrowded and outdated schools across the state. The $1.9 billion it received for fiscal year 2023 includes $1.55 billion to pay for school facility projects, emerging needs and capital maintenance in the 31 SDA districts of the state, while $350 million would pay for projects in non-SDA school districts, according to budget documents.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy at the Dayton Avenue Education Campus Groundbreaking Ceremony with New Jersey Schools Development Authority CEO Manuel Da Silva, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, Senator Paul Sarlo, Member of the Assembly Gary Shaer, Mayor Hector Lora and Superintendent of Public Schools of Passaic Sandra Montanez - Diodonet.  August 23, 2022

After:Overcrowded and crumbling, schools in NJ’s 31 SDA districts are outdated

$1 billion in annual debt and need more

It is the largest injection of cash into the authority since borrowing more than $12 billion more than a decade ago. Taxpayers continue to pay down this debt, to the tune of $1 billion a year.

The funds come after the authority approved spending $200 million in new funds in April – for the first time since Murphy took office in 2018 – to build new schools in Bridgeton, Elizabeth and Garfield.

It was the first major step taken by the state to address longstanding problems in outdated and overcrowded schools after a political patronage scandal sparked a mass exodus in 2019.

The state Supreme Court appointed a “special master,” retired Superior Court Justice Thomas Miller, to produce a detailed analysis of the costs of major construction projects in SDA districts as part of a legal challenge claiming that the state violated its constitutional obligation to students by not spending. enough about building schools.

A High Court ruling in the case could upend the administration’s current funding plan.

When Murphy appointed Lizette Delgado-Polanco to head the SDA in 2018, her main responsibility was to write a long-term plan and win support from lawmakers for another round of loans that would be repaid by taxpayers on long lines. many years, but a nepotism scandal forced her out and led to reforms within the authority.