Legislative Leaders, Educators, Businesses, Unions & Students Urge Support for Vo-Tech Investment
‘Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act’ Will Provide $500 Million for Job Training, School Security and Clean Water
Trenton – A coalition of legislators, educators, union leaders, business groups, students and job training advocates joined together today to urge public approval of a bond issue to provide support for vocational education programs, to improve school security and to ensure clean drinking water in New Jersey’s schools.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senator Steve Oroho, Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Anthony Bucco, the legislative supporters of the $500 million “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act,” urged approval of the referendum that will be on November’s ballot.
The bond issue will allocate $350 million in grants to county vocational-technical school districts and for school security, $50 million for county college career and technical education grants and $100 million for school water infrastructure grants.
“This bond issue is an investment in future opportunities for our children,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “It will provide students with job skills for the modern workforce, improve their safety and security in schoolrooms, and protect their health and well-being by ensuring clean water. We are speaking with one voice in urging the public to give their support to the bond issue that will provide the needed funding.”
“Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act will help protect our school children from unforeseen threats and will ensure safety and quality drinking water,” said Assembly Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “New Jersey is a national education leader and improvements in New Jersey schools will help equip future generations with the skills necessary to develop the state’s future workforce. Any investment in our children’s safety and future is an investment we must make.”
“Our county vocational schools are currently unable to meet the needs of students and employers alike,” said Senator Oroho (R-Sussex/Morris/Warren), who noted that the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus identified this as a need. “The overwhelming demand for these programs proves that many employers are actively looking for job candidates with technical training.”
“New Jersey’s manufacturing industry is facing a critical shortage of skilled workers due to limited access to proper training and education,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “More than 15,000 young men and women here in New Jersey are hoping to enter a technical education program, but cannot due to the limited number of seats available. These are students who are eager and willing to learn, work, and earn a higher wage. Passing the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond will provide these aspiring technical workers with the opportunities they need to find gainful employment and help ensure these young people are members of a large and prosperous middle-class here in New Jersey.”
“We need to do everything we can to make our schools safe, and that includes improving the security of our school buildings,” said Senator Bucco (R-Morris/Somerset). “Creating comprehensive school security programs is one of the most critical ways we can safeguard our students, our teachers, and our communities from outside threats.”
The bond issue will prioritize grants to county vocational-technical schools and colleges that offer “stackable credential programs” that enable students to graduate with a recognized credential, and to schools that enter into partnerships for joint career and technical education programs.
Priority will also be given to projects in which schools partner directly with employers to provide specific technical education and training for current or potential employees. The county vocational-technical schools and county colleges would pay for 25 percent of the cost of technical education grant projects.
The tragic school shootings in schools across the country prompted the legislators to add school security grants to the package, and direct the Commissioner of Education develop procedures and criteria for the evaluation and administration of school facility security grants. It would not require schools to provide matching funds.
The plan will also invest in the critical need to upgrade school water infrastructure to help protect students from lead. Reports show that more than 300 New Jersey schools have found levels of lead in at least one drinking-water outlet.
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