After news that the Department of Education would again offer grants reimbursing 40 percent of the costs for repair and maintenance projects, districts blew the dust off any long-shelved plans to try and grab a piece of the state pie before the $400 million allocated was already committed.
Watchung Hills Regional, which was already in the middle of a planned referendum to tackle a slew of major projects, was quick to capitalize on the program reimbursing long-term programs—and this week, the board approved several additional, smaller projects that the district hopes to receive state assistance under a different program for.
The "ROD grants" offer the same 40 percent reimbursement for the work, but are for work which can be completed and paid within the next 18 months. Districts must show they have, or will have, the other 60 percent of any project's costs in capital accounts—limiting what the districts can shoot for.
Monday, the WHRHS board gave final approval to three such projects: replacing the floor of the 5/6 gym, converting fluorescent lighting to less-expensive LED fixtures, and rennovating the locker rooms of the 7/8 and 3/4 gyms.
Business Administrator Timothy Stys said the estimated cost of the lighting work is between $400,000 and $500,000, while the locker rooms total about $100,000.
In the board's discussion of the plan, members said the 5/6 gym floor is believed to have been installed in the 1960s, and agreed the locker rooms are in poor condition.
"We'd like to use gym 7/8 for basketball because it's beautiful since the storm repairs—but we can't ask visiting teams to use those locker rooms," Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett said.
At the Warren Township Board of Education meeting Aug. 12, members put the final touches on a slate of 10 projects for which the district will seek the ROD grants.
The board had approved applying for the following grants at the July 15 meeting:
- Boiler replacement at Central School;
- Exterior and facade repairs at Angelo L. Tomaso School;
- Exterior and facade repairs at Mt. Horeb School;
- Exterior and facade repairs at Woodland School;
- Roof replacement at Mt. Horeb School;
- Windows replacement at the middle school;
- Window replacement at Mt. Horeb School.
The deadline to apply for the grants is Sept. 3, which determinations scheduled to be announced in October or November.