TOMS RIVER – Noting that Ocean County students will be the beneficiaries of a new building to house the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Performing Arts Academy that will be located on the Ocean County College campus, here, County officials have begun the process to fund the project.
During separate meetings of the Ocean County College Board of School Estimate and the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Board of School Estimate, resolutions were signed outlining the funding sources for the new academy and the responsibilities of the two educational institutions.
In addition, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is scheduled to introduce a $27 million bonding ordinance on Oct. 18 in order to move the building construction forward.
“This is a win-win for both schools and most importantly for the students in Ocean County,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the county’s vo-tech schools. “Placing a performing arts academy on the two-year community college campus opens up many opportunities for both our high school and college students.
“By working together we are adding a new dimension to higher education in Ocean County,” Vicari said. “This is being done at a time when the arts are becoming more and more relevant. This academy will provide a top-notch education for future leaders here in Ocean County.”
The new performing arts academy, about a 60,000 square foot academic building, will be funded through a partnership of public and private entities.
Under the partnership, the cost of the project would be broken up with the state of New Jersey providing up to $10.6 million or 40 percent of the debt service funding. The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation will contribute $8 million and the Board of Freeholders will provide $8 million toward the cost.
Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the college, said the County would float the entire $27 million bond for the construction of the academy.
“We could not have made this happen without the generosity of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation,” Bartlett said. “With the help of the foundation and the state, we can afford the $8 million from the freeholders for the construction of the building.
“The location at the college also is beneficial since the infrastructure already is in place,” he said.
The OCVTS Performing Arts Academy is one of the three academies within the vocational-technical school district. It currently is located at Hangar I of Navy Lakehurst which is part of Joint Base – McGuire, Dix, Lakehurst.
“Our lease with the base will be up soon,” Vicari said. “We needed to make a decision as to what to do. This plan works for everyone and especially for our students.”
The mission of the Performing Arts Academy is to provide an academically challenging education for creatively gifted high school students.
Enhanced performing arts training will empower graduates with the practical skills for higher education and/or a professional career in the arts. The academy offers four majors: theater, vocal, dance and audio engineering.
“The curriculum is rigorous and the students are expected to think critically and creatively,” said OCVTS Superintendent William Hoey. “This new academy will benefit both the high school and college students. We will be sharing the classroom space and can use the other amenities at the college.”
The Performing Arts Academy offers College Prep, Honors, AP, and College level classes. Global digital technology skills are infused into all academic areas. Students are expected to achieve 160 credits.
OCC College President Dr. Jon Larson said by locating the new academy on the college campus students will be accessing college courses and all the amenities of the college like its library, student center and the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts.
“Once they complete the academy curriculum, students will be awarded OCC’s associate degree and will be half way to a bachelor’s degree – all for a fraction of the tuition cost of a university degree,” Larson said. “This is just one of the many benefits that comes from this partnership.”
While a completion date has not been set, a 2019 opening is anticipated.