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TRENTON-The New Jersey Schools Construction Corp. approved 59 projects yesterday, with a total expenditure of $1.5 billion. That authorization leaves some 200 school-related construction and expansion projects in limbo, because SCC’s $8.6-billion well is dry. SCC and its $8.6-billion budget were created five years ago when former Gov. Christie Whitman signed the legislation that kicked off the massive statewide school building program. Former PSE&G chairman Alfred Koeppe was asked by Acting Gov. Richard Codey two months ago to become the chair of the board of the SCC. He says the purpose was “to clean the place up.” The chair is not compensated in any form.

The 59 projects just approved, based on the recommendation of a three-person panel made up of representatives of the NJ Attorney General, the state Department of Education and governor’s office, made for some “tough decisions,” Koeppe conceded to reporters after the announcement. “It would have been much easier if we had the funding we need.” Koeppe also called on the legislature, which is currently in its summer recession, to add more money to the pot for some of the projects that missed the cut.

Codey, meanwhile, issued a written statement that said, in part, “The situation is far from ideal because the reality is, the SCC doesn’t have the financial resources left. …There has been too much money wasted by the agency. It will be up to the next governor and legislature to find the necessary funding.” Codey’s term as acting governor is up in January.

Besides the 59 projects just approved, the $8.6 billionhas gone to construct, expand or renovate nearly three dozen school facilities already completed, with another 43 projects currently still under construction. The latest projects are in Asbury Park, Camden, East Orange, Elizabeth, Garfield, Harrison, Hoboken, Irvington, Jersey City, Keansburg, Long Branch, New Brunswick, Newark, Orange, Passaic, Paterson, Pemberton, Perth Amboy, Plainfield, Pleasantville, Trenton, Union City, Vineland and West New York.

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