Building new schools in the 31 poorest school districts — including Newark, Camden, Trenton and other urban hubs — for more than a decade has been the responsibility of a state agency now called the Schools Development Authority.
Critics say the SDA has been moving at a slow pace in recent years, with "cookie-cutter" designs that don't cater to local needs. They argued in court that the state should delegate more power to school districts to get more schools built faster.
The 2007 state law that established the SDA says it "may" delegate some powers to the districts. But the agency chose not to give them the ability to draft blueprints or acquire land for their new schools.