County school districts eligible for
$2.78M in aid

Saturday, March 07, 2009 By TRISH G. GRABER

TRENTON - Gov. Jon S. Corzine announced the first round of grants available for non-Abbott school districts Friday, part of $1 billion dedicated to regular operating school districts in legislation that was signed into law last year, authorizing the bonding of $3.9 billion for school construction.

Around the state, 133 school districts - four in Cumberland, four in Gloucester and one in Salem County - could get part of $180 million, the amount the state announced it will pitch in for $447 million worth of projects. The distribution of the grants will depend on the districts ability to raise their share of local funds to cover project costs, through a referendum or budget approval, according to the state Department of Education.

Corzine called the funding a way to jump-start the sputtering economy.

"We recognize that many non-Abbott districts are struggling with costs for construction, maintenance and repairs to make desperately needed improvements," Corzine said. "Investing in these types of projects will help stimulate the economy and create job opportunities during this critical time."

In Gloucester County, Clayton, Clearview, South Harrison and Washington Township school districts are eligible for a combined $11.28 million in state funding.

The largest chunk of the state grant money would go to Clayton's school district, which could get $6.4 million for major renovations to the high school.

"It is difficult for children to learn in an old school with crumbling plaster, broken lights, sagging ceilings or inadequate bathrooms," state Education Commissioner Lucille Davy said.

The funding announced Friday is the first round of grants awarded for regular operating school districts from the new bonds. The state will continue to take applications and distribute grants until the $1 billion, included in the legislation signed last July, is expended. The state's poorest districts, the so-called Abbotts, will eventually share $2.9 billion, the first infusion to the state's school construction program since it ran out of money.

"The funding opportunities announced today will both benefit future generations of New Jersey students and create much-needed jobs to stimulate the economy in these unprecedented times," said Schools Development Authority CEO Kris Kolluri.



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