“Middlesex County students, teachers and school administrators will benefit from this infusion of more than half a billion dollars in state funding,” said Gov. Chris Christie. “These grants will allow for efficient, state-of-the-art school facilities that will help foster an improved learning environment for our children.”
The announcement was part of the Christie Administration’s overall $507.7 million purse dog-eared for 1,538 individual school construction projects in 331 school districts throughout the state. East Brunswick is slated to receive about $2.7 million for facility upgrades.
“We’re pleased to announce this funding to districts to assist in the cost of local construction,” added Department of Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. “This state and local partnership will go a long way in making sure that Bergen County students have safe, modern facilities for learning.”
Between state and local contributions, the total project costs of the 1,538 eligible projects are estimated to exceed $1.1 billion.
The state-funded grants represent at least 40 percent of eligible costs for projects in the Regular Operating Districts and address health and safety issues, student overcrowding and other critical needs, according to the state.
The grants, however, are contingent on local approval of the remaining cost to school districts. Regular Operating District grants are separate from the funding for the 31 “SDA districts,” where the Schools Development Authority is responsible for financing 100 percent of eligible costs.
The Department of Education determines the selection of school projects receiving grant funds, which are administered by the Schools Development Authority. In September, the state Department of Education received applications for more than 2,100 individual school projects.
The DOE categorizes applications into three tiers, with Level 1 being the highest priority based on critical building upgrades, roof and window repairs, code issues, ADA upgrades, security systems and hazardous material abatement, according to the administration.
The funding announced Wednesday addresses all Level 1 school facility needs for all school districts in the state that submitted projects.
“This funding builds upon the Administration’s continued commitment to the future of Middlesex County’s schoolchildren,” said SDA Chief Executive Officer Marc Larkins. “SDA has already executed 918 regular operating grants improving 553 facilities across 240 school districts under Governor Christie’s leadership alone. Continuing this effort with this state support will assist in our goal of providing students with a safe and healthy learning environment.”