State Funding May Be Available For School Repairs
● By Rebecca K. Abma
The Midland Park School District got some welcome news this week: The state is releasing $425 million in grants to regular operating school districts this summer. Midland Park is one of 559 such districts in the state. The grants, announced on May 30, will cover at least 40 percent of eligible costs for projects in school districts addressing health and safety issues, student overcrowding and other critical needs.
The remaining costs will be funded by local districts, most likely through referendums. Last December, Midland Park voters rejected a $15.3 million two-part referendum. In April, the district passed a second question to replace some of the roofs for just under $1 million, but much work is still needed. Between boilers, plumbing, bathrooms, windows, the remaining 43,000 square-feet of roof and the high school track, Midland Park could be eligible for $4 million or more of state grants in what Governor Chris Christie is calling the "largest single grant program in New Jersey’s history."
"In this critical time of rebuilding the Garden State, it is more important than ever for these school projects to move forward with state financial support," Christie said in his announcement.
"These grants will provide the additional benefit of much needed jobs in the construction trades,” added Schools Development Authority CEO Marc Larkins. “We hope that as many school districts as possible will take advantage of this opportunity to improve their facilities."
Competition for the funding may be plentiful, but the deadlines are tight. The application window closes the first week of September with awards likely to be announced before the November election. School Business Administrator Stacy Garvey noted that the district is in good shape to submit plans to the state, as the ground work was already done for the 2012 referendum.