NJ’s Sandy-Damaged School Districts Eligible for Federal Recovery Grants

More than $1 million on tap now, with tens of millions likely coming for cleanup and major facility repairs

Nearly 60 districts will be eligible for federal recovery grants to help cover the costs of damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, the state said yesterday.

The state Department of Education released a list of 57 districts that will be eligible to apply for $1.25 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program, a program created almost a decade ago to address school safety.

The funds can be applied to a variety of short- and long-term costs, from overtime and substitutes to emergency transportation, the announcement said. The districts have until March 21 to apply.

“Providing resources and support to our schools and communities as they continue to deal with the effects of superstorm Sandy is of the utmost importance,” said state Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf in a statement.

“I am extremely grateful to Secretary [Arne] Duncan and the U.S, Department of Education for their commitment to support the recovery of school communities in New Jersey.”

Beyond this small grant program, New Jersey schools are seeking help from insurance companies and other federal funds that will likely total in the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars, local officials and their advocates have said.

These will be used not just to address emergency costs but for facility damage and cleanup. Many of the districts hardest hit are also facing the prospect of a significant loss of tax ratables to fund their budgets.