L.M.D.C. school money is tardy once again

Downtown schools will have to wait at least another two months before they can apply for $4.5 million in education grants from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

The grant applications were supposed to go out this month, but the L.M.D.C. said Tuesday night that it would take until January to get them ready.

“There’s some kinks that need to be worked out,” Angela Rossi, director of projects and programs for L.M.D.C., told Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee Tuesday night.

The education grants were part of the L.M.D.C.’s $37 million in community enhancement money, most of which was allocated a year ago. But the L.M.D.C. delayed giving out the education money then in an effort to get more schools to apply. Now, the L.M.D.C. is hammering out an agreement with the Department of Education to administer the grant program, which could take until the end of the year.

Rossi used the word “preliminary” several times in describing plans for the grants, but she said schools would definitely have the money by the fall of 2009. Two months ago, the L.M.D.C. said the schools would have the money by early next year.

Under the program, all 63 public schools below Houston St. would be eligible to apply for up to $100,000 in one of five areas: library, fitness, art, technology or science. The grant will also fund the salary of a new D.O.E. employee to lead the application and selection process.

“In tough times, this is very good news,” said Bob Townley, a member of C.B. 1’s Youth Committee.

Paul Hovitz, another committee member, added, “This is like a school bailout.”

—Julie Shapiro