In Long Branch, Christie announces additional $500 million for new schools construction
By Max Pizarro | September 24th, 2012 - 11:53am
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LONG BRANCH - Governor Chris Christie helped break ground for the new George L. Catrambone Elementary School in Long Branch, the last project from the Schools Delopment Authority's (SDA) 2011 portfolio as the governor said he intends to roll out another $500 million in new school construction projects over the course of the next six months.

"During the past two years, sweeping reforms were instituted at the SDA to ensure that the wasteful spending, cost overruns and empty promises that existed under previous administrations would not be repeated," said Christie, standing with the school's namesake, local educator Catrambone and SDA CEO Mark Larkins. "With today's groundbreaking, this Administration is demonstrating its firm commitment to move forward with the construction of efficient and cost-effective school facilities that provide our students with modern and efficient learning environments."

As the governor heads into a re-election year, the coming rollouts are designed to project 2013 activity. 

"Over the next six months, New Jersey's construction industry will benefit from an investment of more than $500 million dollars in school facilities projects that will either start construction, or be advertised for construction throughout the state, boosting the Garden State economy and creating jobs," said the GOP governor.

The new George L. Catrambone Elementary School will be a 109,000-square-foot, two-story facility designed to educate approximately 800 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grades, according to the governor's office. The building will be constructed on the site of the former Elberon Elementary School which was demolished in 2009. The facility will include 41 classrooms, four special education classrooms, a cafetorium, stage, computer room, gymnasium, media center/library, art room and a music room. The facility is anticipated for completion for the September 2014 school year.

Christie, Larkins and community leader/teacher Catrambone stood in front of heavy equipment parked picturesquely at the edge of the busy work site. Terminal Construction Corp. of Wood Ridge has the $27.5 million contract for the construction of the new school. Becica Associates, LLC of Cherry Hill and Greyhawk North America LLC of Moorestown is the construction manager. The total estimated project costs are $40.1 million.

"This is a great day for the Long Branch community and further demonstrates the advancement of school construction projects throughout the state in a manner that will provide the students with the facilities they need, while maintaining accountability for the most prudent use of state resources," said Larkins. "We are excited with the volume of work about to commence and look forward to playing a key role in stimulating the economy while serving New Jersey's children."

Catrambone had a career in the Long Branch School District that spanned more than three decades: from teacher of the handicapped to Middle School head teacher of special education, to District coordinator of special education to assistant superintendent of schools.

“George,” said the governor, “congratulations to you to the great work you have done all these years. I hope the spirit that will be infused into this school will be the spirit that has informed your career.” 

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"Christie’s method for coping with scandal has been more complicated. In January, the seemingly-local issue of lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, which created a massive traffic jam in the Hudson River town of Fort Lee, became one of national interest when it was revealed that one of Christie’s closest staffers had ordered them—for what looked like political retribution against a Democratic mayor. The scandal was quickly dubbed 'Bridgegate,' and unfortunately for Christie, it played into his reputation as a bully. Christie's response was to act unlike himself: humble." - Olivia Nuzzi

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