State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced today that Camden, Clay, Gates, and Jones counties will receive a combined $30 million in grants through the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund.
The General Assembly outlined the grant program in the 2017 budget, setting aside more than $100 million over the next two years to aid school construction projects in lower income communities. Only Tier 1 counties, or the most economically distressed counties, are eligible this year and the next. Tier 2 counties can apply for the grants later.
“Through these grants, we will begin to address the critical school infrastructure needs in less populated parts of our state through projects that will begin construction within 12 months,” Johnson said in a press release. “Students in outdated — and in some cases, unsafe — buildings will benefit soon from these new facilities.”
The funds come from the state lottery and are capped at $15 million for each individual project in the Tier 1 counties. By law, counties must match $1 for every $3 in grant funds.
To build a new pre-K through 12th grade campus, Jones County received $15 million. The total project is supposed to cost $45 million and will serve 60 percent of the county’s students.
“We are grateful for the grant approval,” said Michael Bracy, the superintendent of Jones County Public Schools. “This will help our plans for a new school become a reality. This opportunity will be a game changer for our community and most importantly, our students.”
Clay County received $10.2 million and plans to build a new primary-school facility costing $14 million overall. The grants for both Camden County and Gates County projects amount to a little over $2 million.
“As I travel across the state, I see the great need, and I understand the local struggle to fund these large capital projects,” Johnson said. “I thank the General Assembly for addressing this need with a focus on equity and look forward to many more of these projects being funded next year.”