June 13, 2024
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Teach NJ Champions State Budget Goals

The leadership of Teach NJ, the state’s leading advocate for the needs of nonpublic schools, knew the unpredictable nature of state budgets and nonetheless set ambitious goals for the state’s support of nonpublic schools in the FY2022 budget. They didn’t just set goals, they worked assiduously to persuade legislators of the merits of these allocations.

Teach NJ shared their FY2022 budget priorities with the readers of The Jewish Link in a news story published on March 4.

Following Governor Murphy’s signing, on Tuesday June 29, of the FY2022 budget passed earlier in the month by the NJ State Senate and Assembly, Teach NJ announced that they hadn’t just met their goals but, in two instances, they exceeded them. In a press release, Teach NJ celebrated an additional $11.9 million in funding for nonpublic schools.

The four priorities Teach NJ set for the NJ State FY2022 budget, and the final allocations received, were as follows:

Increased Funding for Nursing Aid

Dan Mitzner, Teach Coalition’s director of political affairs, noted that funding rose from a pre-pandemic level of $97/student in nonpublic schools to $112/student. This area received a net of $2.3 million in funding.

Maintaining Support for the NN State Stem Program in Nonpublic Schools

Mitzner shared that the state maintained the funding granted years earlier for this innovative program that pays for STEM teachers from public schools to also teach STEM subjects in nonpublic schools. The initial funding for this initiative was $5 million and the FY2022 budget allows nonpublic schools to continue to draw on those funds until they are fully spent.

Maintain NJ State Support of Technology Aid to Nonpublic Schools

Mitzner pointed out that funding rose from a pre-pandemic level of $36/student in nonpublic schools to $42/student. This area received a net of $6.4 million in funding.

An Increase in Support for Auxiliary Services Support

These funds cover services such as compensatory education, English-language learning, and home instruction. Mitzner reported that funding rose from $37 million, pre-pandemic, to $41.6 million.

“We thank Governor Murphy and our stalwart champions like Assemblyman Gary Schaer for recognizing the need to support a strong and thriving nonpublic school community throughout New Jersey,” said Mitzner. “Teach NJ is also grateful to the many members of the legislature who understand the financial pressures of our schools. In particular, we thank Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Deputy Majority Leader Senator Paul Sarlo, Senator Troy Singleton, Senator Joe Lagana, Assembly Deputy Speaker P. Christopher Tully, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin for their unwavering support and partnership. … The vital funding increases in the FY2022 budget will allow nonpublic schools to address new challenges borne out of the pandemic and changing demographics throughout the state.”

Teach NJ Executive Director Katie Katz added: “This accomplishment also reflects the strong efforts of Teach NJ to mobilize the grass roots, to advocate for these priorities. We were gratified to see the response to our concerted ‘Get Out the Vote’ efforts, with a 25% increase in voting in heavily Jewish areas like Bergen County, Elizabeth and Toms River. Coming out in every single election helps and legislators take note of this!

“We’re thankful as well to all the activists, students, teachers, school leaders and grandparents who participated in our Mission to Trenton and other activities, to impress upon legislators the importance of these allocations.”

Katz urged community members to reach out and thank their legislators for this record level of support for nonpublic schools. They may do so easily by using the automated forms on this Teach NJ website: https://tinyurl.com/jdjwzpst

One key NJ State legislative leader noted, in comments to The Jewish Link, that he and other legislators are proud to address the essential needs of nonpublic schools. “This is crucial support for the students and their families in the non-public schools that play such an important role in providing quality education throughout New Jersey,” said State Senate President Steve Sweeney. “I have long been committed to advancing educational opportunities for all students and I am pleased that this budget provides additional resources for public and non-public schools.”

“Whether children attend public, private, or parochial schools, they all deserve to be recognized by the State when it comes to financial support. Throughout my career in the Legislature, I have initiated, sponsored, and cosponsored numerous bills which have translated into significant increases in funding for our nonpublic schools,” remarked Assemblyman Gary Schaer, adding, “In the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, special education funding was raised to $41.6 million, handicapped aid to $28.2 million, nursing services to $16.6 million, security aid to $25.9 million, transportation funding to $2.5 million, textbook aid to $8.2 million, and technology aid to $6.4 million. These successes could not have been possible without the help of the Governor, my colleagues in the State Legislature, and the many organizations fighting to increase funding for our nonpublic schools.”

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