Emergent Project Program
What is an Emergent Project?
Emergent projects defined in Department of Education regulations at 6A:26 "means a capital project necessitating expedited review and, if applicable, approval, in order to alleviate a condition that, if not corrected on an expedited basis, would render a building or facility so potentially injurious or hazardous that it causes an imminent peril to the health and safety of students or staff.” Emergent projects include the repair or replacement of roofs; windows; exterior masonry; heating and cooling systems; and plumbing, electrical, mechanical and security systems, as well as addressing water infiltration issues. This is not to be confused with Emergency conditions or situations that could arise, which are the complete responsibility of the school districts. As defined in the same regulations, “Emergency Stabilization means actions taken by a district to correct and eliminate an actual or imminent peril to the health and safety of students or staff designed to render a school facility fit for occupancy by students or staff."
During the first two years of the Christie Administration, SDA has started construction on 32 SDA-managed emergent projects – 23 in 2010 and nine in 2011. A total of 81 additional emergent conditions were addressed during that time through delegation – where the SDA funded the projects, but the districts themselves managed them. More emergent projects have been completed under Governor Christie’s tenure than any other governor.
Emergent Designation Process
In 2011, the SDA and Department of Education (DOE) launched its second Statewide effort to identify and evaluate eligible emergent conditions in over 475 school facilities. A letter was sent to all SDA Districts requesting that they detail projects that they believed represented “emergent conditions” as defined by the law. All 31 SDA Districts responded to the request, with 28 Districts reporting 716 conditions in school facilities throughout the state and three districts indicating they had no projects for consideration.
400 projects were initially eliminated because they did not meet the specific eligibility criteria as outlined in its regulations. SDA and DOE staff then visited and evaluated the remaining 300 conditions at over 190 schools. Conditions were reviewed and grouped into four categories: Routine and/or Required Maintenance, Potential Capital Maintenance Project, Potential Schools Facilities Projects and Potential Emergent Project. Through this process an initial 76 conditions in 68 schools within 21 school districts were identified for advancement. To view the status of the list of 76 conditions, click here.
Management of an Emergent Project
The SDA is using a proactively managed approach to prioritize and review the conditions identified for advancement. The conditions identified fall into the following categories; fire safety, structural issues, boilers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical, domestic water and building envelope (roof, masonry, windows, etc.).
The SDA manages many projects identified as emergent, while others are delegated for District management, depending upon the project’s scope and complexity. For delegated projects, the SDA executes a grant agreement with the District, which is then responsible for procuring and disbursing payment to the consultants and contractors. The SDA maintains oversight throughout the process.
Funding for Emergent Projects
The SDA fully funds emergent projects in the 31 SDA Districts. In 2008, $97 million was set aside in an emergent project reserve to fund identified projects. By the end of 2010, the funding was nearly exhausted.
In March 2011, the SDA Board approved the 2011 Capital Program Report which included the allocation of an additional $100 million to fund emergent projects in the 31 SDA Districts.
Can Districts Fund Emergent Projects?
The statute governing emergent projects allows SDA Districts to undertake emergent-type projects with their own funding if: (1) the cost of each project does not exceed $500,000, and, (2) the DOE Commissioner has first approved the inclusion of the project upon demonstration by the district that its budget includes sufficient funds to finance the project. A district may also withdraw funds from a capital reserve account for such purpose with the approval of the Commissioner of DOE.
Pursuant to the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act (EFCFA), P.L. 2000, c.72, the SDA is required to undertake and provide the State share equal to 100% of the Final Eligible Costs (FEC) of school facilities projects in SDA districts (formerly Abbott districts). In 2008, EFCFA was amended to remove the $500,000 cap on delegable emergent projects. Therefore, while the SDA provides for 100% of the cost of emergent projects in SDA districts, the SDA can determine whether or not to manage an emergent project itself or to delegate the management of a project back to the district.