Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act Grant Applications Open
New Jersey school districts can begin to take advantage of funding provided under the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act...
Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act Grant Applications Open
<strong>New Jersey school districts can begin to take advantage of funding provided under the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act</strong>...
New Jersey school districts can begin to take advantage of funding provided under the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, which authorized the issuance of $500 million in bonds to fund key improvements to New Jersey school facilities and for the expansion of career and technical education. On October 9, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) announced that applications for the School Security, Water Infrastructure Improvement, and County Vocational School District (CVSD) Career and Technical Education (CTE) grants are now open.
Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act
New Jersey voters approved the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act (Act) in November 2018. In approving the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, New Jersey voters authorized the issuance of $500 million in State general obligation bonds, with the proceeds from the bonds funding grants to county vocational school districts and county colleges to construct and equip education facilities in order to expand existing or offer new career and technical education programs. Money will also be used for school security upgrades and school district water infrastructure improvement projects. The funds are allocated as follows:
- School Security: A total of $75 million in grant funding is available to help districts implement Alyssa’s Law, which requires that schools have a panic alarm system that alerts police if an emergency occurs. After addressing Alyssa’s Law, the funding can be used for other security measures in schools such as cameras, secure vestibules, and shatter-resistant glass.
- Water Infrastructure: A total of $100 million in grant funding can be used to address issues of lead in school drinking water, and can be used for water-remediation projects such as service line replacement, water flushing systems, and fixtures that filter water.
- CTE Programs in County Vocational-Technical School Districts: A total of $275 million in grant funding will support the expansion of CTE programs in the county vocational-technical school districts, including building, expanding, and renovating facilities. Depending on the scope of the project, projects will be funded up to a maximum of $40 million, and per the Bond Act, 25 percent of total project costs must be supported by the county vocational-technical school districts.
- CTE Programs in County Colleges: A total of $50 million in grant funding is available to target key industry clusters as designated by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Each county college is eligible for a maximum award of up to $4 million and 25 percent of total project costs must be supported by the county college.
NJDOE Guidance on Grant Applications
The NJDOE recently issued timelines, eligibility requirements, and application materials for the School Security, Water Infrastructure Improvement, and CVSD CTE grants. Below are a few key takeaways from the NJDOE guidelines:
- School Security Grants: In order to be eligible for school security grant funding under the Bond Act, districts must either demonstrate compliance with Alyssa’s Law or submit a school security grant application requesting funding to achieve compliance. After compliance is achieved and demonstrated in all school buildings, the district’s school security grant allocation may be used for additional eligible security improvements. Eligible facilities include school buildings serving any combination of district students in grades kindergarten through twelve, including district-owned buildings and leased buildings if (1) the lessor is a public entity, such as a school district or county college, (2) the term of the lease agreement is for a minimum of five years, with an end date no earlier than June 30, 2024, and (3) the school district is authorized to make the improvements represented in the grant application. Each school district will be allocated a maximum grant allowance based on its student population and grades served.
- Water Infrastructure Improvement: The water infrastructure grant program is open to all New Jersey public school districts that operate school buildings. Leased school facilities are eligible for grant consideration if (1) the lessor is a public entity, such as a school district or county college, (2) the term of the lease agreement is no less than five years with an end date no earlier than June 30, 2024, and (3) the school district is authorized to make the improvements represented in the grant application. For drinking water outlets with a detectable level of lead, eligible projects include: (1) the replacement of drinking water outlets with a certified lead-free unit; (2) the installation of point-of-use treatment devices certified to reduce lead; (3) reimbursement for work described in (1) and (2), if performed on or after January 1, 2016. For whole system remediation, eligible projects include: (1) the installation of a building-wide automated flushing system; (2) lead service line replacement; (3) upgrades to non-community and non-public well systems, excluding interior piping replacement; and (4) up to 2 years of filter replacements at time of initial purchase if costs are within maximum funding allowance. If total grant applications for eligible projects exceed the available amount for grant funding pursuant to the Bond Act, then the grant awards will be competitive based on several factors listed under N.J.A.C. 6A:26A-3.3(b), with the top two factors being: (1) type of and level of contamination; and (2) the grade levels serviced by the school, with highest priority to earliest grades.
- CVSD CTE Grants: All County vocational school districts (CVSDs) are eligible to apply. Leased school facilities are eligible for grant consideration if (1) the lessor is a public entity, such as a school district or county college, (2) the term of the lease agreement is no less than five years with an end date no earlier than June 30, 2024, and (3) the school district is authorized to make the improvements represented in the grant application. Eligible projects include renovation and/or new construction to increase student capacity in select CTE programs, including related demolition, site improvements and physical plant upgrades, and furniture and equipment in renovated, reassigned, or new spaces related to CTE program expansion. A maximum of $160 million is allocated to fund Large Projects exceeding $25 million. No more than four large projects will be approved. Each Large Project selected for an award will be funded at 75% of total estimated project costs up to a maximum of $40 million per Large Project. Given that the demand for CTE program grant funding is anticipated to exceed the $275 million grant allocation, all applications will be ranked based on the extent to which the applications address grant program requirements and priorities. This includes the extent to which the project proposes CTE programs that address or involve equitable access, collaboration with county colleges or employers, industry-valued credentials, the ability for students to earn college credits, apprenticeship programs, and innovative technologies, schedules, teaching methodologies, and partnerships.
The grant applications are now available on NJDOE Homeroom. The School Security Grant application is available through the link to the EWEG system, and the applications for the Water Infrastructure Improvement and CVSD CTE grants are available through separate links on the NJDOE Homeroom webpage.
School Security and Water Infrastructure Improvement grant applications are due on November 20, 2020, and the CVSD CTE grant application is due March 1, 2021.
If you have questions, please contact us
For more information about the grants available under the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act or the legal issues involved, I encourage you to contact me, David Blank, or a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group at 201-896-4100.
Please Share This article
About Author David L. Blank
David L. Blank advises and represents private and public clients in matters involving construction and public contracting, encompassing public bidding and professional services, and surety law. He has extensive experience with all aspects of public bidding and procurement, including preparing bids and construction documents, for both public and private entities.
Contact Practice Representative
Please fill out our short form to get the latest articles from the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorneys weekly on the cutting-edge legal topics.