Trenton—After very strained budget negotiations and an ensuing three-day government shutdown, Teach NJ reported that New Jersey passed a $40 million budget that includes a significant increase in aid for nonpublic school students in New Jersey, which is good news for Jewish day schools and yeshivot. Teach NJS is a project of day schools across the state, the Orthodox Union and several federations.
The new budget represents an 18 percent increase over last year ($6 million over last year), and a 42 percent increase since the inception of Teach NJS two years ago. New Jersey’s Jewish day schools will receive approximately $11 million, a $1.7 million increase over this year.
“We made excellent progress in a very tough budget environment. Everyone saw that the government actually closed for three days due to the tense nature of this budget,” said Josh Caplan, state director of Teach NJS. “Because our community came together and made our collective voice heard in Trenton, our day schools will benefit from increased funding.”
“Caplan added that the upcoming election in November of a new governor means that Teach NJS has its work cut out for it. “We will have to work to build relationships with new elected officials including a first term governor. We hope the New Jersey Jewish community will continue to actively partner with us in this critical effort,” he said.
”Teach NJS would like to specifically thank Assembly Budget Chair Gary Schaer for his leadership in the successful passage of this bill. We also could not have achieved this victory without the help of the schools, parents, lay leaders, and our partners at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey who dedicate themselves every day to fighting for our kids,” Caplan added.
The funding includes increases for security, nursing aid and technology. The security funding represents a 50 percent increase from the current year and was a particularly pressing issue in the light of increased threats and vandalism in the Jewish community.
Throughout 2017, Teach NJS held meetings with top New Jersey government leaders and brought elected officials to New Jersey Jewish day schools to visit with students and discuss the schools’ needs with administrators. The school visits included The Moriah School, Ben Porat Yosef, Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, Hillel Yeshiva and Yavneh Academy.
Teach NJS worked closely with Assembly Budget Chair Gary Schaer, Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Gov. Chris Christie.
“We are so pleased with this significant advance for New Jersey non-public schools,” said Mark Bane, president of the Orthodox Union. “We thank both the legislature and Gov. Christie for delivering for our children, and we express our appreciation to the thousands of parents and New Jersey citizens who pursued efforts in support of this important undertaking.”
“While we still have some ways to go to achieve full parity with public schools, there is a recognition in state government that nonpublic school students deserve access to basic services,” said Teach NJS co-chair Sam Moed. “The legislature and governor deserve credit for this important step.”
Learn more about Teach NJS and how you can get involved please email [email protected]