There is no official decision on funding for Cumberland County’s proposed full-time technical high school, state Department of Education officials said Thursday.

Department officials are still reviewing the county’s proposal, including a recent land-acquisition application for the project, department spokesman Richard Vespucci said.

Until then, the department had only received the county’s application for the proposed school facility, he said.

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“We need ... to issue the preliminary estimated cost approvals,” Vespucci said. “We are working back and forth with the architect to resolve some issues before we make a final determination. The process is not on a fixed time schedule for our review and approval to be complete.”

County officials said last week they received verbal confirmation from the department that it would pay $51 million in debt service for the technical school project. The project is estimated to cost about $70 million.

The county would have to find funding sources to cover the rest of the project’s cost, county officials said.

According to Vespucci, nothing becomes official until the state sends the county a letter indicating the department’s approval of the project and how much money it will put toward the project.

County officials said earlier the project cannot move forward without significant financial aid from the state.

Cumberland County Freeholder Doug Long, who is leading the technical high school project, could not be reached for comment.

Currently, Millville, Vineland, Bridgeton and Cumberland County Regional high schools send students to the Cumberland County Technical Education Center in Deerfield Township on a part-time basis. County officials said that setup leaves students spending too much time riding buses and not enough time meeting state educational requirements.

The proposed full-time high would be a two-story, 193,000-square foot facility built on more than 10 acres of ground next to the Cumberland County College campus and between Route 55 and College Drive. The building will have classrooms, a media center, cafeteria, technical laboratories, greenhouse and even a fitness center that would be open to the public.

The plan also calls for new athletic fields and parking for 630 vehicles.

Building a full-time technical high school is one of three major projects the county announced last year as part of a plan to help boost one of the worst county economies in the state.

Contact Thomas Barlas:



Been working with the Press for about 27 years.

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