Officials support GCIT school upgrades

Article published Wednesday, November 26, 2008
By Pete McCarthy

The first hurdle was cleared Tuesday to ensure $16 million is available for a planned expansion of the Gloucester County Institute of Technology in Deptford. Garrison Architects of Mt. Laurel has designed the expansin.

A bond ordinance was introduced by the county freeholders and will get a final vote after a public hearing next month.

"This secures the funding so we can start the project," said Freeholder Director Stephen Sweeney. "You need the funding in place before you can award the contracts."

The sooner the money is available, the quicker construction can begin, said Sweeney.

"Right now, the construction industry competition is great because there is not a lot of work," said Sweeney. "That means you're getting better pricing."

Earlier this month, the county announced a scaled-back plan to build a new Academy High School on the grounds of GCIT. The initial proposal called for a new building. Instead, it was decided the technology school would undergo a massive renovation. The Academy High School students will still get space, but it will continue to be in the same building.

County officials altered the plan when it was realized the vocational students were not getting enough space.

This new proposal will allow GCIT to expand its enrollment by 450 seats.

"Kids that need vocational training are being crowded out," said Sweeney. "These kids deserve to have the career skills."

The county will seek $6.7 million in state aid to help reduce the cost of the expansion.

Also on Tuesday, the freeholders approved a $1.3 million bond ordinance to move ahead with repairs to the roof at the Bankbridge Regional Elementary School in Deptford.

The county is currently in litigation with the company that recently installed the school's roof, but the decision was made to make the repairs now.There already are leaks that could lead to mold damage, according to Sweeney.

Although the county will be able to bond the money, the plan is to borrow it from the surplus, said county Administrator Chad Bruner.

"We want to make sure everything is correct to prevent future damage," said Bruner.


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