A bill fast-tracked by legislative leaders in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly would open the door to sending millions more in taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools to pay the salaries of math, science and technology teachers.
Lawmakers are pushing through the bill, S2660/A4098, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) and Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen and Passaic), as they face a nearly $2 billion shortfall in funding New Jersey’s public schools and are poised to enact a State Budget for FY20 that will cut $90 million from 197 districts in order to save money.
The bill, if signed by Governor Phil Murphy, would add yet another category to the seven separate appropriations of funding to private schools shouldered by New Jersey taxpayers. The FY20 State Budget under consideration by the Legislature will already send almost $113 million in public dollars to private and religious schools:
These private school funds don’t include the money spent to support transportation to private and religious schools .This amount is likely in the tens of millions, but the State doesn’t even keep track of the state and local aid the Legislature forces local school districts to spend for busing to private schools. The Lakewood Public Schools must take over $8 million from educating its students to pay for private school busing.
“It’s a disgrace that this proposed legislation is even being considered, given the enormity of the shortfall in public school funding,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director. “We call on Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to immediately pull this bill from consideration. We also call on them in this budget to begin phasing out the $113 million sent to private schools and redistribute those funds to our severely underfunded public schools.”
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications