Ocean County Performing Arts School Funding Begins

The Performing Arts Academy currently operates out of a hangar on Joint Base-McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst. (Photo courtesy OCVTS)

TOMS RIVER – Although ground hasn’t been broken for the upcoming Performing Arts Academy, officials have laid the groundwork for its funding.

The Ocean County Freeholders passed the second reading of an ordinance that would create a $27 million bond to pay for the school. Freeholder John Bartlett said the county will float the bond for the construction, and pay $8 million of its total cost. However, the funding will come from other sources as well. The state of New Jersey will be paying 40 percent of the project, or $10.6 million. The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation has pledged $8 million.

“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 60,000-square-foot building is expected to open in 2019. It will be located on the campus of Ocean County College.

One of the benefits of being at OCC is that the infrastructure is already there, Bartlett said. The site is already hooked up to utilities and the roads and parking are already there. Additionally, the county would not have to purchase property for the school.

“At night time, the college can use the building as well,” he said.

The Performing Arts Academy is currently renting space in Hangar 1 of the Joint Base-McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst. Its lease will be expiring soon. Additionally, with added security regulations, parents and staff have expressed that location is not as convenient as it once was.

OCVTS Students rehearse “Peter and the Starcatcher.” (Photo courtesy OCVTS)

During the introduction of that bond ordinance, Suzanne Wyckoff, Jackson, thanked the Freeholders on behalf of the Parent Teacher Association for the Performing Arts Academy.

“The school is amazing. The building…not so much,” she said of the academy’s current home.

She underlined that her children have been engaged with a challenging academic course load in addition to their chosen artistic specialities.

Two institutions that only exist on paper, the Ocean County College Board of School Estimate and the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Board of School Estimate, both passed resolutions outlining the funding sources and the responsibilities of the two institutions.

The academy offers four majors: theater, vocal, dance and audio engineering. This is in addition to its academic curriculum.

“The curriculum is rigorous and the students are expected to think critically and creatively,” OCVTS Superintendent William Hoey said in a press release. “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.”

OCC College President Dr. Jon Larson said in a press release that high school students will able to use the college’s 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.