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>Update :Ridgewood Schools Get Go Ahead for $48M expansion, renovation plans

>Ridgewood schools can proceed with $48M expansion, renovation plans
Friday, January 8, 2010
LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY JANUARY 8, 2010, 8:05 PM
BY PATRICIA ALEX
THE RECORD
STAFF WRITER

Ridgewood can proceed as planned with a $48 million expansion and renovation plan for its public schools after the state reiterated Friday that money promised for the project would be forthcoming.

The school district on Thursday posted a notice from Superintendent of Schools Daniel Fishbein on its Web site saying that the release of $10 million in state contributions to the project would be delayed pending review by the incoming Christie administration. The notice said Ridgewood would not begin work until the matter was resolved.

But Friday afternoon, a representative of the state agency that doles out the money said the funds approved in a recent referendum would be on their way.

“The press release issued by Ridgewood was unfortunately not accurate,” said Larry Hanover, spokesman for the Schools Development Authority. “We have been in dialogue with the district and have reassured them that &hellip grants that have passed local referendum will be processed in accordance with direction received from both the current administration and the incoming governor’s staff.”

Christie has vowed to review all further borrowing by the state, leading to some confusion in local school districts. Mike Yaple, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said his group had gotten calls from one or two other districts that were worried about receipt of the state funds. “It was a concern,” said Yaple. “People weren’t sure how it was going to play out.”

Bob Hutton, vice president of the Ridgewood school board, said earlier conversations with the state led Ridgewood to believe the money was in jeopardy. “We were told point blank by the SDA that they weren’t signing anything,” Hutton said.

However, late Friday, after the SDA saw the Ridgewood release, the district received word that their project was a go, Hutton said. Work is slated to begin in the summer, he said.

The project will include improvements at nine schools and several athletic fields in the district. It was approved by a margin of 62 votes in December.

E-mail: alex@northjersey.com

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