Jersey City BOE may need to look to bonding and budgeting to pay for facilities plan

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The Jersey City Board of Education is looking for ways to fund a long-term facilities plan that could reduce overcrowding in public schools and revitalize its buildings.

On Wednesday, the BOE reviewed the second part of a plan developed to determine solutions that could eliminate school trailers, renovate and renovate older buildings and add new gymnasiums and wings to schools to reduce overcrowding.

SSP Architects CEO Jeanne Perantoni told the BOE that its only sources of funding to help cover the cost of the plan are its annual budget and funds raised by selling authorized bonds, which could be done by public referendum. .

Perantoni said the district could also look to “short-term investments with the purchase and financing of leases,” grants and an emergency relief fund for elementary and secondary schools, relief money. against the coronavirus passed earlier this year.

“Because your renewal needs were deferred and they exceeded your investments,” said Perantoni, “that’s why I really tried to plant the seed by setting aside a set amount in your annual budget for sort of dealing with a whole slew of some of this work that’s happening.

“It should be something that you do for a long time because you have a pent-up need for investment in facilities. “

Perantoni added that the school district may seek private donations to help cover the cost of the long-term setup plan.

The Jersey City school district is one of the largest in the state with approximately 30,000 students in its 41 schools. Of its 49 school buildings, more than half are over 90 years old.

Paying the bill for the long-term settlement plan can prove more than difficult for district officials as the state continues to withdraw state aid. The district has already been slashed by $ 150 million in state aid as part of a seven-year, $ 250 million reduction plan.

The State Schools Development Authority (SDA) is responsible for building new schools in Abbott’s 31 old districts (now called SDA districts), but a new state-funded school has not opened since 2017. A report The 2019 State Assessment by the SDA identified the District of Jersey City as 1,200 overcapacity students.

But the city has had to rely on developers to finance new school buildings, such as the recently opened 16 Downtown School Annex.

BOE President Mussab Ali said the district cannot link on its own because it is an SDA district. He said the institution was completely bankrupt and that there was an ongoing lawsuit regarding the repayment of SDA to the tune of $ 2 billion.

“Here in Jersey City, we haven’t seen any School Development Agency dollars, I say at any time over the past three years,” Ali said. “Most school districts have the ability to bond, which I wish I could have here in Jersey City, because I think if we could bond, the first thing we should bond for would be to have central air conditioning in all our schools. “

Ali added that the district could work with the city so that he can bond on his behalf. He said another option is to work with state legislatures so that the district can have an opportunity to bond.

“Either way, this is a problem that has been happening for years and we just don’t have the financial means to be able to fund these kinds of projects,” Ali said.


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