On Friday, Oct. 9, the N.J. Department of Education announced that districts can now begin applying for funding made available under the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.
In a broadcast memo to all districts, which can be accessed here, the department indicated that grants for school security enhancements, water infrastructure improvements, and county vocational career and technical education (CTE) expansion can be applied for through the NJDOE Homeroom online portal.
The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, which received voter approval in 2018, authorized the issuance of $500 million in bonds to fund various improvements to New Jersey school facilities and for the expansion of career and technical education. The funds are being allocated as follows:
- $275 million for county vocational school district career and technical education (CVSD CTE) grants;
- $75 million for school security project grants to schools;
- $50 million for county college CTE grants; and
- $100 million for school district water infrastructure improvement grants.
Any county vocational school district applying for a CTE grant must demonstrate how the funds will be used to increase the district’s capacity to offer CTE programs to prepare students for high demand, technically skilled careers aligned with labor market demands. Funding may be used to renovate existing facilities or for new construction. The bond funds will support 75% of the cost of each approved project, with the remaining 25% to be paid for by the district. No amount of the costs of the project shall be included in the cost of tuition charged to sending school districts.
The funding dedicated to school security will first be used to reimburse school districts for compliance with Alyssa’s Law, which requires all school buildings to be equipped with panic alarms linked to local law enforcement. The remaining funds will be used to support select school security infrastructure improvements prescribed under a 2016 law, which requires districts to make various enhancements to the physical security of their facilities. To be eligible for school security grant funding under the Bond Act, districts must first either demonstrate compliance with Alyssa’s Law or submit an application requesting funding to achieve compliance. After demonstrating compliance in all school buildings, the district’s school security grant allocation may be used for additional eligible security improvements.
The water infrastructure improvement grants program is intended to remediate water contamination through water system improvements in the state’s public schools. Eligible projects include improvements to drinking water outlets and whole system remediation, such as the installation of automatic water flushing systems or lead service line replacements.
Both the school security grants and the water infrastructure improvements grants are 100% state-funded with no local match requirement.
The deadline to apply for the school security and water infrastructure improvement grant is Nov. 20. The application deadline for the CVSD CTE grants is March 1, 2021.
More information on each of the grant programs, including applications and final guidelines, can be found on the NJDOE School Facilities webpage.