Millville Public Schools has been awarded $5 million as part of the New Jersey School and Small Business Ventilation and Energy Efficiency Verification and Repair (SSB-VEEVR) Program. The program is funded by the School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program Fund, which was signed into law by Governor Murphy in August of 2021, and to which the state dedicated $180 million in American Rescue Plan funds appropriated in the FY 2022 Appropriations Act.
The fund and associated grant program are administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and are intended to finance the assessment, repair, upgrading, and replacement of HVAC systems and plumbing systems in schools and small businesses. Air quality in schools came to the forefront during the height of the COVID pandemic, as school buildings contended with the need for substantial improvements to aging HVAC systems.
Millville Public Schools, under the leadership of Superintendent Tony Trongone, followed the genesis of the SSB-VEEVR program closely and acted expeditiously, submitting an application in March of 2022. The grant is being awarded on a “first-come, first-serve” basis and many districts are now waiting in the pipeline for potential acceptance. “A primary responsibility of school leaders is to find the requisite resources in providing our students and staff with an environment most conducive for learning and teaching,” said Trongone. “This grant affords the district this opportunity.”
The district was officially awarded the $5 million on November 16th. It will utilize the funds to finance a large portion of an HVAC improvement project in the summer of 2024. Acting proactively–and prior to the existence of this grant–Superintendent Trongone and Business Administrator Richard Davidson appropriated a significant amount of ESSER II (CRSSA) and ESSER III (ARP) funds to HVAC upgrades at two schools identified as most in-need, following a formal assessment of the system at each building: Silver Run Elementary and Holly Heights Elementary. Upgrades at Silver Run will take place in the summer of 2023 and will be fully financed by district ESSER (Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief) funds. Work at Holly Heights will take place the following summer and will be funded by a combination of ESSER and the SSB-VEEVR grant.
“Procurement of this grant is just another example where Millville Public Schools is sensitive to the fiscal impact local schools have on local taxpayers,” the Millville Superintendent explained. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”