State OKs $3.5M Grant For School Referendum Work

By on December 4, 2013

Most of the work planned in the referendum would be carried out at VHS.

Most of the work planned in the referendum would be carried out at VHS.

The Verona Board of Education has received a state grant of $3,564,402 to help fund the work proposed under our planned referendum.

The Christie Administration today announced the approval of $507.7 million in state funds to help fund the cost of 1,538 individual school construction projects in 331 school districts throughout the state. Of the state funding, $19 million will go to support 55 projects in 11 school districts in Essex County, supporting a total of $47.6 million in school construction throughout the county.

Verona’s application for the Regular Operating District (ROD) grant indicated $8,911,004 in so-called level 1 project costs. The grant issued by the state is 40% of that, which is what the Board of Education had been hoping for. ROD grants are intended to address address health and safety issues, student overcrowding and other critical needs. Level 1 projects incliude critical building upgrades, roof and window repairs, code issues, ADA upgrades, security systems and hazardous material abatement.

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At last week’s meeting, the BOE got an estimate of $16,950,924 for the entire project. If that becomes the total for the referendum, which could come to a vote in March 2014, the BOE could subtract the ROD grant from the total and bond for $13,386,522.

“So, in that regard, it’s good news,” BOE President John Quattrocchi said by e-mail. “That said, we still have some way to go to get the Board aligned on the priorities of the total work and the overall size of the endeavor. That’s our focus through the coming month or two.”

Verona had the second highest project cost of the 11 Essex districts after South Orange-Maplewood, which sought $21,433,219 and received $8,573,288. Cedar Grove sought $4,998,568 and was granted $1,999,427, while the Caldwell-West Caldwell district applied for $1,783,088 and got $713,235.

“Essex County students, teachers and school administrators will benefit from this infusion of more than half a billion dollars in state funding,” said Governor Christie. “These grants will allow for efficient, state-of-the-art school facilities that will help foster an improved learning environment for our children.”

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