NJ School Construction Down In 2012 [AUDIO]
Fewer school districts in New Jersey are renovating or putting additions onto their buildings. In fact, 2012 ended as the quietest year for school construction in recent history.
"There are a few reasons for the decrease. It's still a difficult economy, demand for school construction is down and there is no state aid to help offset the cost. Many districts have also seen a decrease in enrollment so there is less of a push to build new classrooms," said Mike Yaple, Public Affairs Officer for the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Voters last year approved 11 of the 20 school construction proposals on the ballot for a total of $106 million dollars in new construction. "That's a huge change from ten years ago when voters approved over a billion dollars in school construction," said Yaple. "With the economy the way it is right now, school boards are usually proposing only necessary projects like roof repairs and repairs to boilers and things like that. Also, many districts addressed their renovation and expansion issues over the past decade so demand isn't as high."
"As for 2013, each school district has a five year facility plan in place and it looks at all kinds of things including projected student enrollment, the state of existing facilities and what kind of work will be needed. So, they generally have a good sense of what needs to be done and what would be needed to do so," said Yaple. "It's always difficult to predict the future, but our sense is that it's probably going to continue to be a slow year especially with the lack of state aid to offset the cost. So, if you want to do that renovation or construction project as a community, you can do it, but you're going to be doing it alone. You won't get help with state aid."