A new press release from Education Law Center charges that NJ’s School Development Authority, responsible for school construction in high-poverty districts, is wasting tons of money on overhead and, in fact, spend $34 million on administrative costs in 2012:
An analysis by ELC of financial records since January 2010 shows the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) spent a total of $114 million on agency staff, office space, legal services, communications and other administrative expenses over the last three years. That amounts to a staggering 17% of the $661 million in SDA expenditures over the three-year period.
SDA costs are “stunningly high” and “way out of line” with the administrative overhead of similar school construction agencies in other states, said Mary Filardo, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based 21st Century School Fund. Ms. Filardo is one of the nation’s leading experts on the impact of school facilities on student learning and has served as a consultant and advisor to state and district school facilities planning and construction programs.
Seems like a pretty good argument for the Urban Hope Act, which allows school boards in Trenton, Newark, and Camden to bypass the SDA and contract with charter organizations to build school buildings and operate charter schools. Yet ELC has virulently opposed the Urban Hope Act, even after its usual ally, the New Jersey Education Association, expressed its support. From NJEA President Barbara Keshishian: “NJEA supports this legislation because it allows for innovation while providing meaningful public accountability. It is a creative expansion of public school choice that uses public funds to support public education.” Here’s some background.