Read this article as it originally appeared June 16, 2021 on MyCentralJersey.com.
MIDDLESEX COUNTY – The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools (MCVTS) has been selected by Gov. Phil Murphy to receive a $23,137,500 grant to expand career and technical educational programs, as part of the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.
The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act was passed by public referendum in 2018 and provides $500 million in infrastructure funding for the state’s vocational and technical schools as well as certain other infrastructure projects.
The purpose of the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act is to expand the capacity for vocational schools to prepare students for high demand, technically skilled careers, said Ronald G. Rios, Middlesex County Commissioners director, and MCVTS Superintendent Dianne Veilleux.
The Middlesex County Board of Commissioners earlier this year guaranteed a 25% percent match to the grant, adding another almost $6 million to the project, bringing the funding for the program to $29 million. Required by the bond act, 25 percent of total project cost must be supported by the county vocational-technical school districts. The Securing our Children’s Future Bond Act is a standard 25% local, 75% state match.
According to Rios and Veilleux, MCVTS applied for funding that will directly impact and prepare students. The proposal includes the creation of five programs —sustainable construction and environmental technology; information, communication and cybersecurity technology; global logistics, robotics and drone technology; biotechnology and plant science; and sustainable energy technology — at the East Brunswick campus.
The five were chosen because of the projected employment statistics of the fastest growing industries as determined by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, officials said.
The programs also are supported by career technical education classrooms that will focus on technology and collaboration. The career technical education classrooms will be housed in a proposed 41,800-square-foot Center for Sustainability and Innovation. It will be designed to allow for drastic savings on utility costs and energy usage, becoming a study for students within itself.
The proposal submitted to the state Department of Education is in support of Middlesex County’s “endless commitment to the success of our students both during their time at our vocational schools and in their careers beyond our halls,” said Rios and Veilleux. The county commissioners and the vo-tech school board said they recognize the opportunity for our students to learn and grow in a “cutting-edge, state-of-the-art facility, which will better prepare them to make a significant change in their fields of study.”
The Murphy administration is recommending approximately $317.2 million in awards for the initial round of the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.
“I have long believed that investments in our students and schools are investments in the future of our state,” Murphy said. “These projects will help our school districts and institutions of higher education keep students safe and healthy, while also ensuring that they are ready for the careers of future.”
For county vocational school districts, the first round will fund 17 proposed projects, totaling approximately $220.2 million. The grants will be administered by the Department of Education.
The projects head to the Legislature for final approval.
“The infrastructure improvements announced (May 28) will fund school security and water infrastructure projects, as well as expand career and technical education offerings in our county vocational-technical schools,” said acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan. “These are major investments that will provide students with greater opportunity, safety, and security.”