A bill sponsored by NJ Assemblyman Gary Shaer (D-Bergen and Passaic) and set for a full Assembly vote on Monday would send another $3 million to reimburse private schools for nursing staff, on top of the over $14 million already appropriated for this purpose in the current State Budget. A companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Senator Joseph Cryan (D-Union) and Senator Joseph Lagana (D-Bergen and Passaic).
If the supplemental appropriation is approved, it would bring the total amount sent by NJ taxpayers in 2019-20 to reimburse private and religious schools for nursing, technology and an array of other expenditures to almost $116 million, not including tens, if not hundreds, of millions to transport private school students.
At the same time, NJ Legislators owe an estimated $2 billion in state school aid to New Jersey’s public school children under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), the state’s weighted student funding formula.
The proposed bill provides no information, data or assessment demonstrating the need for an additional allocation of $3 million for nurses in private and religious schools. The Legislature does not require these schools to document the need for reimbursable services, nor does it require any accounting of how these funds are spent by the schools.
“It’s a disgrace to even consider adding millions more in taxpayer dollars to fund private and religious schools, given the enormity of the shortfall in public school funding,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director. “We call on Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to immediately pull this bill from a floor vote. And if it passes, we urge Governor Phil Murphy to promptly veto the bill.”
ELC will continue to press NJ legislators and Governor Murphy in the upcoming FY21 State Budget to begin phasing out the $113 million in taxpayer dollars currently sent to private schools and to redistribute those funds to severely underfunded public schools.
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