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NJ LEGISLATORS CAN’T FUND PUBLIC SCHOOLS BUT WILL SEND MILLIONS MORE TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS

June 19, 2018

A bill fast-tracked by legislative leaders in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly would require the State to send millions more in taxpayer dollars to private and religious schools to pay the salaries of math, science and technology teachers.

The bill, S2660/A4098, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) and Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen and Passaic), is under consideration at a time when the State is facing a nearly $2 billion shortfall in funding for public schools under New Jersey’s funding formula – the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA).

The bill, if approved, would add another category to the well over $100 million in public dollars already flowing to support private and religious schools. In recent years, the NJ Legislature has approved using taxpayer dollars to fund a variety of expenditures in non-public schools, including security, technology, textbooks, “auxiliary services” and nursing services. In the FY18 State Budget, New Jersey taxpayers sent over $100 million to private and religious schools for these services:

These current amounts don’t include the public funds spent to support transportation to private and religious schools. This amount is likely in the tens of millions, but the State does not account for the state aid and local revenue transferred from local school district budgets for non-public transportation. The Lakewood school district spends well over $20 million in state and local funding to transport students to private religious schools.

“It is hard to imagine how this proposed legislation has even seen the light of day, given the enormity of the need to fund our public schools and the tight revenue limits in the State Budget,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “We call on Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to immediately pull this bill from consideration and to concentrate on the urgent task of ensuring public dollars only support our severely underfunded public schools.”

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24