“I will use the 3.9 billion dollars in the school construction funds that has been already approved, and this governor has been sitting on it,” said Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for New Jersey Governor, during a conference with Latino leaders yesterday at the Pan-American Park.
Chris Christie, the incumbent governor, has just been sitting on the $3.9 billion that was approved for school construction in poor districts in 2008, according to Buono. She said, she will put that money to good use by building schools in urban areas, like Paterson. “”This governor has not utilized that 3.9 billion dollars,” said Buono.
The Marshall Street Elementary school which was promised to the city some ten years ago has yet to be build, according to education advocates in the city, who held a demonstration last week in front of the weed infested construction site in the corner of Hazel and Marshall Streets. Although a construction contract was issued to a Philadelphia company in July, there is no construction at the site.
New Jersey Schools Development Authority, the agency that is in charge of building schools in urban districts, said that the construction will move forward once a “Constructability Review” is completed; the agency had no time frame as to when that process will be finished or a general estimate of the length of time required to complete that review.
“All you have to do is go into some of these schools and just be shocked and appalled by some of the conditions in which our children have to try and learn in,” said Buono. She mentioned a school in Trenton, where every-time it rains, the water drips into the school triggering the fire alarm, forcing students outside in the rain for more than 40 minutes until the fire engine responds.
Although, the problem is not as dire in the city, many teachers have complained of the over-crowding in schools: in some schools, there are more than 30 students per a teacher, making it difficult for teachers to issue instructions and students to learn from them.