Governor marks opening of Newark school

TRENTON, NJ — Building on the Christie administration’s record of building school facilities efficiently and in a cost-effective manner, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, Gov. Chris Christie joined New Jersey Schools Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Charles McKenna to mark the opening of the new Elliott Street Elementary School in Newark. This new school replaces the original structure that was severely damaged in 2006 by a lightning strike and subsequent fire, resulting in the building having to be demolished.

“This school, which was completed a semester ahead of schedule and on budget, is an example of the quality facility that is delivered through the efficient and responsible school construction program we have created over last six years,” said Christie on Wednesday, Feb. 24. “The Elliott Street Elementary School is an example of what happens when you do things the right way. We made much-needed changes to build schools that not only make efficient use of taxpayer dollars, but schools that utilize design standards and construction practices that make sense in bringing 21st-century learning opportunities to our students.”

The new Elliott Street Elementary School is designed to educate approximately 850 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades. It includes 30 general classrooms, four kindergarten classrooms, six pre-kindergarten classrooms, two world language labs, three science labs, a robotics room, small group instruction rooms, a computer lab, music rooms, art rooms, a cafeteria, multipurpose room with stage, gymnasium and media center.

“In partnership with Newark Public Schools, we are working hard to deliver the educational facilities needed to provide students with the quality environments that are conducive to learning,” said McKenna on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Elliott Street Elementary School was constructed utilizing a Design-Build approach. The Design-Build method differs from the traditional approach by allowing for some design and construction activities to proceed concurrently through phased advancement.

“Today is a great day for the parents, students and teachers of Elliott Street Elementary School who have been patiently waiting for their new school to be constructed,” said Christopher Cerf, superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “This state-of-the-art facility is going to help us provide an excellent education for our school children and will have a profound impact on this community.”

Prior to the Christie administration’s reforms, the Schools Development Authority was roundly criticized for its inefficiencies, lack of construction progress and waste of taxpayer dollars. On taking office, Christie took action to institute an objective prioritization of statewide educational needs and the advancement of sound design and construction principles to ensure that the inefficiency and wasteful spending habits of previous administrations would not be repeated. These positive reforms include standardized design component elements, which can be implemented for multiple Capital Program projects, a Design-Build delivery method, which has allowed the Schools Development Authority to deliver projects one to two years earlier than more traditional approaches, and the initiation of a constructability review process that targets the near elimination of change orders.

Overall, the Schools Development Authority has invested more than $425 million toward completed projects in Newark, including $46.7 million for the Elliott Street Elementary School — an additional $15.1 million was contributed by Newark Public Schools from insurance proceeds received as a result of the lightning strike and subsequent fire. Hall Construction Company of Howell was the design-build contractor, working in partnership with Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor LLC of Warren. The project was managed by Gilbane Building Company of New Brunswick.

The Schools Development Authority’s current portfolio of active projects is valued at more than $2 billion — including the Capital Project Portfolio emergent projects and Regular Operating District grants. Schools Development Authority currently has 12 school facilities projects in active construction throughout the state, including the Oliver Street Elementary School in Newark. Schools Development Authority also has advanced the design of the South Street Elementary School in Newark.