Created by the state legislature a decade ago as an extraordinary measure to remedy the deplorable physical conditions and overcrowding of the citys schools, the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) has been widely criticized for failing to substantially alter school building conditions. At the time of SCAs inception, the Board of Education (BOE) had estimated that 83 percent of the schools required capital repairs totaling $5 billion. Since then, the Authority has spent roughly $7 billion, and the Board of Education estimates that another $7 billion is required to repair the citys existing school buildings, and still more is needed to increase capacity.

Nearly three decades of deferred maintenance, aging school buildings and rising student enrollment continue to inflate the systems capital needs, while recent attempts to inject new funding have been thwarted. This past year, voters defeated a bond act that would have provided $2.4 billion for school construction and repair and Governor Pataki vetoed $500 million in school construction aid proposed by the state legislature.

A recent court ruling added new urgency to the citys need to repair its public schools. Finding that nearly one-fifth of the citys public schools possessed hazardous conditions and that the city had failed to comply with city and state statutes regarding school inspections and maintenance, the State Supreme Court sided with the local teachers union and has required the city to develop a remediation plan.

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