As part of his commitment to ensuring a high-quality education for every student in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy today announced that $75 million in funding will be distributed to school districts across the state to help meet emergent and capital maintenance needs, as well as address COVID-19 concerns to help schools ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for students. Because every school district in New Jersey will receive funding, the projects will also support good-paying union jobs in all corners of the state.
“In order to ensure New Jersey remains the number one school system in the nation, we must ensure our schools have the tools they need for students to succeed,” said Governor Murphy. “The funds we are announcing today are critical for making sure our schools remain safe and welcoming spaces for our kids and educators and for ensuring that our school buildings can meet the needs of the future. I am also proud to say that these projects will support union jobs throughout New Jersey.”
All school districts will receive a portion of the $75 million, which will be administered by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA). Of the $75 million, $50 million will be distributed to New Jersey’s 31 SDA districts and $25 million will be distributed to regular operating districts.
Governor Murphy was joined by Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillian and Manuel M. Da Silva, Chief Executive Officer of the SDA. The Governor made today’s announcement during a visit to the Garfield School District, which will receive $853,224.
“School districts share our goal of providing students with healthy and safe learning spaces, which is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan. “I commend Governor Murphy and the School Development Authority for the foresight in making this a priority in the budget.”
“We are committed to ensuring that New Jersey’s educational facilities best support the needs of students through healthy and safe learning environments,” said Schools Department Authority CEO Manuel Da Silva. “We are excited to continue our work through the administration of this grant program for ROD and SDA school districts, allowing them to make important and necessary improvements to their school facilities.”
“Today’s announcement begins to move us in the right direction and sends the signal that New Jersey is paying attention to our schools’ outdated infrastructure,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “While this will address some immediate projects, there is still much to be done to ensure all our students have a safe, suitable learning environment. We must understand that there is an immense need where school infrastructure is concerned. Therefore, there must also be discussion about investment in tangible short-term and long-term solutions.”
“Our students, even those from low-income or working-class neighborhoods, deserve the same opportunities, facilities and first-class classrooms that more affluent districts take for granted. Our parents need to be able not to worry about whether their child is getting an equal opportunity to achieve as their peers in other parts of the state,” said Senator Nellie Pou. “Indeed, the maintenance and, where needed, construction of new buildings, classrooms, chemistry labs, band rooms, audio visual studios or athletic facilities should be the same for every child in New Jersey, in order that we as a state live up to the letter and spirit of the words and the promise in our state Constitution, ‘provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient’ education for every child in the state.”
“With this funding, we will be able to not only maintain, but also elevate the quality of school facilities throughout New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “Our students deserve access to an educational environment where they can flourish, and the construction projects that are possible thanks to this investment will help us deliver on the promise to create that environment.”
“With funding allocated for every district, schools will be able to properly begin to address long-standing concerns in their facilities while also ensuring that no district is left behind. In Paterson, 18 school buildings are over 100 years old and need more attention than newly constructed buildings,” said Assemblymembers Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly. “Under the new pandemic driven standards, many schools have struggled to fund the construction enhancements such as new ventilation systems. This funding will greatly propel school improvement projects in New Jersey and allow us to make upgrades to the schools that need it most.”
“Investments in infrastructure keep our state safe and put New Jersey residents to work,” said Bergen County Building Trades President Rick Sabato. “The funding announced by the Governor today will both support our schools and the hardworking men and women in our building trades. I thank the Governor for his continued investment in our state and our people.”
Besides being able to use the funds for emergent and capital maintenance needs and measures related to COVID-19, a district can use the funds to offset appropriate project costs incurred this fiscal year.