But that effort largely ground to a halt in early 2006when Corzine, at the beginning of his current term, effectivelydissolved the SCC amid growing charges of mismanagement and costoverruns. The effort began to get back on track ayear ago when the Schools Development Authority was formed via thelegislative route as a successor, and that agency will oversee theongoing program.

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"Today, we fulfill an important obligation to our children bymaking a down payment on the future of their education," reads astatement by Corzine, who yesterday signed the legislation at anearly 140-year-old elementary school here, among those targetedfor improvements. "Every student deserves to attend school in asafe and healthy building. This legislation recognizes that…."

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"These funds will meet a critical need for New Jersey studentswho have been forced to learn in ancient and often crumbling schoolbuildings," says Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), a co-sponsor ofthe legislation (S1457/A2873).

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The legislation designates $2.9 billion for schools in what aretermed "the state's poorest communities," or "Abbott Districts" asdesignated by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Abbott v.Burke in the late '90s. Another $1 billion will go for projectsin suburban districts around the state, and of the total, $50million will go for projects specifically involving countyvocational schools.

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To date, the SDA and its predecessor SCC have overseen more than500 projects, ranging from 39 new schools, to a number of majoradditions and an extensive series of smaller renovations. Theprojects targeted for the new funding are 53 new schools around thestate. Of those, 27 are earlier projects that had been put on holdin early 2007 in the wake of the shut-down of the SCC, and 26 areentirely new projects.

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