HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont has announced the release of $150 million toward a newly established state grant program dedicated to supporting upgrades for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in Connecticut public schools.

The grants will supplement more than $165 million that schools have already committed for air filtration improvements since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic through funding they received from the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

The governor said that he is creating the state grant program to ensure that schools have a dedicated source of funding to support additional infrastructure upgrades, noting that the pandemic exposed a significant need to have modernized air filtration units in schools.

“One thing the Covid-19 pandemic showed is that many school buildings in our state, particularly those that are of a certain age, are in serious need of air quality improvements,” Gov. Lamont said. “Modernized ventilation systems provide an important public health function that filtrate the air and reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses.

“Most importantly, these air filtration systems will help ensure that our students can continue receiving their education in-person, in the classroom, where they learn best. Over the last two years, school districts in Connecticut have invested more than $165 million in Covid-relief funding to make these kinds of air quality improvements, and by creating a state program dedicated to these upgrades, we can continue providing schools with additional funding to implement these much-needed infrastructure enhancements.”

The Connecticut Public Schools HVAC/Indoor Air Quality Grant Program is administered by the Office of School Construction Grants and Review, an office within the state Department of Administrative Services. It was created in collaboration with the state Department of Education, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the state Department of Public Health.

Gov. Lamont proposed creating this grant program earlier this year as part of his state budget proposal and it later received approval from the General Assembly. The initial $150 million allocation is being supported through two revenue streams, with $75 million coming from state bond funding and the remainder from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The governor stressed that this initial allocation is a first investment in the program, and additional rounds of funding can be invested as needed, subject to approval from the state legislature.

Applications from school districts are now being accepted and must be submitted to the state by December 1, 2022. Municipalities will be required to provide matching grants to fund the project costs. Award notices will be announced in early 2023.

Examples of eligible projects include replacing, upgrading or repairing boilers and other heating and ventilation components; replacing controls and technology systems related to HVAC operations, installing or upgrading air conditioning or ventilation systems, and similar work approved by the commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services.

Distribution of the grants will be prioritized based on age and condition of the current HVAC system or equipment being replaced or upgraded in the school; current air quality issues at the school; age and condition of the overall school building; the school district’s master plan; availability of maintenance records; a contract or plans for the routine maintenance and cleaning of the HVAC system, and the local or regional board of education’s or regional educational service center’s ability to finance the remainder of the costs for such project after receiving a grant under the program.

State Department of Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said, “Safe and healthy schools are vital precursors to providing environments conducive to teaching and learning. This is why we included building safe and healthy schools as an investment priority for districts use of Covid-19 recovery funds.”

Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, M.D., said, “Proper air circulation and ventilation in our schools is a crucial public health strategy against Covid19 and all respiratory viral diseases. Like the vaccines, boosters and self-test kits that are made available to our schools, this grant will provide another strategy to ensure a healthier environment for our students, faculty, and staff for many years to come.” 

For more information on the program, including application information, visit ct.gov/hvacgrants.

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