Agudath Israel Urges New Jersey Budget Committee to Support Nonpublic School Students

Today, Rabbi Shlomo Schorr, Director of Legislative Affairs for Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey office, testified before the Senate Budget and appropriations Committee to ask for an increase in the amount of funds allocated for nonpublic school remedial services and busing.

Rabbi Schorr explained that although the Legislature increased the overall funding for the remedial services program for nonpublic school students (known as “Chapter 192”), due to various factors, students were actually receiving less remedial services this year.

Rabbi Schorr also noted that since 1998, when the Legislature set the Chapter 192 allocation at $995 per student, the total amount has only increased by less than 8% while the costs of educating those students has increased exponentially. Fewer funds available for children means less money available to hire teachers, larger class sizes, and less instructional time per student.

“The children eligible for these services are the most vulnerable amongst our students,” Rabbi Schorr noted. “These children deserve, as the statute says, the ‘fullest possible opportunity to develop their intellectual capacities.’ We therefore implore the members of this committee to increase the per-pupil amount from $1,070 to $1,300.”

This increase would provide about $13 million for services to nonpublic school students across the state, including about $6 million for students attending Jewish schools.

Rabbi Schorr also requested that the Legislature increase the transportation funds allocated for students attending nonpublic schools, by the same rate as the increase in the Consumer Price Index. New Jersey law requires the state (via local school districts) to provide transportation for all students living more than a certain distance from their school. However, if the cost of transportation costs more than $1,165 per student, the state provides “aid-in-lieu” which means it gives the money directly to the parents, Rabbi Schorr asked the committee to raise the annual threshold amount to $1,233 per student, up from the current $1,165, which would enable more school districts to provide transportation.

“Tens of thousands of New Jersey children, entitled and mandated to receive a means of transportation to their schools, are being shortchanged,” Rabbi Schorr added.

For the current school year, over 50,000 children are receiving aid-in-lieu payments, compared to the approximately 39,100 children receiving busing.

While it is the governor who proposes the initial budget, it is ultimately the lawmakers who are responsible for drafting and approving the annual appropriations act, sending it to him for his signature or veto prior to the July 1st deadline.

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

ADIREI 3.0: Organizers Announce New Adirei Hatorah Maamad On June 16

Adirei Hatorah organizers announced on Wednesday morning that there...

Assemblyman Schnall Calls for Action in Response to Record-High Antisemitic Incidents in New Jersey

Assemblyman Avi Schnall expressed profound concern following the release...

Driver Killed After Colliding With Cement Mixer In Howell

The Howell Township Police Department is investigating a fatal...