ELC’s advocacy has led to the creation of one of the largest and most comprehensive school construction programs in the nation. In the landmark Abbott v. Burke litigation, the New Jersey Supreme Court required that every school building in the State’s poorest urban districts be made safe, healthy, and educationally adequate. In 1998, the Court ordered the State to manage and fully fund a comprehensive plan to improve all school buildings in these districts. For the first time, the State assumed direct responsibility for the physical condition and educational adequacy of local preschool, primary and secondary school facilities.
For both the most current and archival information on ELC’s school facilities work, please visit our News page.
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Advocacy & Litigation
In 2002, the State, through the Schools Development Authority (SDA), began financing new and renovated school construction projects statewide. Since 2002, dozens of new schools have been opened in the former Abbott districts, and hundreds of health and safety repairs have been made to existing schools. In addition, the SDA has made hundreds of grants to support school construction projects in the remaining districts throughout the state. Despite this progress, there is significant unmet need and funding for the program is running low. ELC, in partnership with the Healthy Schools Now Coalition, is working to ensure the State authorizes additional resources for the program.
In addition to litigation and advocacy on behalf of New Jersey students, ELC is a founding partner in the national initiative, Building Educational Success Together (BEST), led by the 21st Century School Fund. BEST works to secure policy changes needed to improve school facilities and make schools the center of communities across the nation.
To read ELC reports on school facilities, visit the Publications page on this website.
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