What We Do
The New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) is the State agency responsible for fully funding and managing the new construction, modernization and renovation of school facilities projects in 31 school districts known as the SDA Districts.
There are three types of projects the SDA funds:
- Capital Projects – These are new schools, major renovations and rehabilitation projects in the SDA Districts.
- Emergent Projects – Emergent projects are those deemed necessary in SDA Districts due to potential health and safety issues.
- ROD Grants – Grant funding is provided for projects in Regular Operating Districts that address health and safety issues and other critical needs. The grants are contingent on local approval of the remaining district share of the total costs needed.
The SDA's current portfolio of active projects is valued at approximately $2 billion – including the Capital Project Portfolio, Emergent Projects and Regular Operating District grants.
In 1998, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the Abbott v. Burke case that the State must provide 100 percent funding for all school renovation and construction projects in special-needs school districts. According to the Court, aging, unsafe and overcrowded buildings prevented children from receiving the "thorough and efficient" education required under the New Jersey Constitution.
In response, the New Jersey Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act (the "Act") was enacted on July 18, 2000, launching the School Construction Program. Full funding for approved projects was authorized for the 31 special-needs districts, known as 'Abbott Districts'. In addition, grants totaling 40 percent of eligible costs were made available to the remaining school districts across the state.
The work of the SDA would not be possible without the positive partnerships we have with various State Agencies.
- Attorney General (AG) - The AG's Office provides advice and acts as legal counsel for SDA.
- Department of Community Affairs (DCA) - The DCA, Division of Government Services' ensures that SDA contracts comply with the Public Schools Contract Law (PSCL) and associated statutes. Permits for school facility projects managed by SDA are issued by DCA.
- Department of Education (DOE) - DOE is responsible for reviewing and approving each school district's Long Range Facilities Plan (LRFP) and each school construction project to ensure that the plans are in compliance with State building standards, referred to as "facilities efficiency standards" and for conformity with educational requirements. DOE also oversees the application and review process for the emergent program and ROD grant program.
- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) –SDA projects must conform to DEP regulations.
- Department of Labor (DOL) - The DOL monitors the payment of prevailing wages on all school construction projects. All contractors must be "registered" with the DOL to work on school construction projects.
- Department of Treasury - Treasury coordinates the classification of all contracting and professional consulting firms with the SDA and work with SDA on the issuance of the $12.5 billion in State-contracted debt. The SDA is considered in but not of the Department of Treasury.
- Economic Development Authority (EDA) – The EDA is responsible for issuing bonds that support the work of the Authority.
- State Police - Investigatory background checks of all professional consultants and construction contractors are performed by the State Police.
The SDA is committed to efficient and effective communication with our community partners including School District Officials, the legislature, local community members, community groups.
The local school district is our partner from the start of a project through school opening. They are part of the scoping conversations, design meetings, and regular project updates. The District’s educational program, as approved by DOE, helps direct the needs of a school project. The District helps SDA staff in choosing furniture, fixtures, technology and colors used throughout a building. The district is also responsible for determining the level of community input in the design of a new school. They are an integral part of the SDA’s process and we are pleased to work with our SDA District partners to deliver facilities that will enhance the educational opportunities available to students.
The SDA regularly reports to various New Jersey legislative bodies. Through the Annual and Biannual Reports, SDA provides updates on the status of the school construction program. SDA also periodically appears before legislative committees to discuss our work.
SDA maintains open communication with members of the community throughout the duration of our projects. When appropriate, the SDA may hold community meetings with the residents surrounding a construction site to provide information regarding expectations for the duration of construction. In addition, the SDA has a Customer Service Hotline where individuals can call to speak with a SDA staff member to obtain project-related or other information. SDA staff also meet with various stakeholder groups throughout the State.
We understand that educating New Jersey’s youth in quality educational facilities is important and we are committed to working with our community partners toward this goal.
Our mission is to deliver high-quality educational facilities that best meet the needs of the students of the State of New Jersey. While providing efficiently designed facilities that enhance the academic environment, we promote fiscal responsibility in the management of taxpayers’ resources.
The NJSDA will be a resource and guide for consistency in sound school design and construction practices for districts across New Jersey, transparent in our efforts as a staunch steward of taxpayer funds.