State Declines to Fund RHS Learning Commons

Next steps for ambitious project to be discussed next week by the board of education.

A rendering of the proposed Ridgewood High School Learning Commons by LAN Associates.
A rendering of the proposed Ridgewood High School Learning Commons by LAN Associates.

The state Department of Education  declined a grant application from the Ridgewood Board of Education to help fund an ambitious renovation to the high school library.

In a letter to parents Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent Fishbein said the state approved grants for two other projects, but did not rank the proposed Ridgewood High School Learning Commons as a priority.

“It is unfortunate that we were unable to secure the grant for the Learning Commons,” Fishbein wrote. “The community has been extremely supportive of this project and your support is very much appreciated. While I am disappointed we did not receive grant funding, I am excited about moving forward with this vital project.”

A committee of the home and school association had raised close to $1 million, with help from the school board and Ridgewood Education Foundation, in a fundraising drive over the last year to pay for the expected costs of the project. But higher than anticipated bids in the spring pushed the budget up, leading the district to apply to the state for funding.

The state approved $141 million in funding to Bergen County schools, including $434,220 to Ridgewood, under a program that covers 40 percent or more of the cost of capital improvements.

HVAC upgrades to the high school as well as window replacements in the rear of the building were approved for funding, Fishbein said.

Organizers of the proposed project envision renovating the 50-year-old library as a state of the art facility with conference rooms and new technology, to be used by students for modern research, study and group work.

Fishbein said that the board of education will discuss the future of the project at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

jp1 December 12, 2013 at 11:04 AM
Learning in NJ seems not to be a priority. Then again the state never gives much money to the better systems.
Paul December 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM
"Learning in NJ seems not to be a priority."?????? NJ State Aid to Public Schools 2013-14 =$8.8 billion
jp1 December 12, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Just where does the money go?
Phil Brooks December 12, 2013 at 02:27 PM
JP, Much of it goes to districts that have no idea what to do with it. // Many of these districts that have parents that don't give a shit and the bleeding heart politicians think that throwing money at the problem will fix it. And it never will.
RdgwdGRock December 12, 2013 at 03:18 PM
how is this project over $1 Million? from the rendering, all I see is a bunch of tables, chairs and shelves and some flat panel TV's.


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