The Securing Our Children’s Future bond referendum, Public Question #1 on the November 6 ballot, is strongly supported by both Democrat and Republican lawmakers, and statewide business, education and labor organizations.
The ballot question would authorize $500 million in state bonds to expand career and technical education opportunities at county vocational-technical schools and county colleges, and enhance school security and school drinking water systems. The ballot questions allocates $350 million to two purposes – the expansion of county vocational-technical schools and school security, but does not specify the amounts to be allocated to each purpose. The referendum would also provide $50 million to county college needs and $100 million to remediate lead in the water in New Jersey schools.
These are critical student needs, and the bond referendum provides a unique opportunity to address them with the help of state funds that will reduce the cost for school districts and taxpayers.
The Securing Our Children’s Future bond act has bi-partisan sponsorship and was approved by the Senate and Assembly with a near-unanimous vote. Here’s why the Legislature felt this was so important:
- School security needs are paramount. As the leaders in our buildings and districts, we are committed to keeping our students and staff safe. However, many of our school facilities need security upgrades, and with increasingly-tight school budgets, finding the money to make these critical infrastructure improvements is a challenge. This bond referendum would provide financial assistance for these critical
- Over the past few years, lead has been found in the drinking water at almost 400 New Jersey schools, many of them older buildings. This is a real threat to the health and safety of our students, but again, remediation is a large expense. The public question would provide $100 million for water infrastructure improvements in districts with the most severe problems.
- Finally, the bond referendum asks voters to approve the expansion of career and technical education facilities at county colleges and vocational-technical schools to prepare more young people to fill well-paying jobs in critical and emerging New Jersey industries. Our state has a serious skills gap. Employers say their ability to grow and expand is limited because they cannot find qualified people to fill highly technical jobs in areas like advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, aviation, health care and construction. At the same time, with the high cost and debt of a four-year college degree, parents and students are looking for career options that can be launched with technical credentials and perhaps an associate’s degree.
NJPSA supports the Legislature’s efforts to address some long-overdue school facilities issues in our public schools. We urge our members to vote in support of the Securing Our Children’s Bond Act on November 6th as an important first step in addressing the facilities’ needs of all schools.
Public Question #1 is an investment in our students’ safety and security and in our state’s future workforce that will make a real and lasting difference here in New Jersey.
For more information:
From NJ Spotlight: $500 million in new state debt on November ballot – Will voters be as generous as ever? https://www.njspotlight.com/stories/18/10/22/500m-in-new-state-debt-on-november-ballot-will-voters-be-as-generous-as-in-past/
NJEA President Marie Blistan’s opinion article in the Asbury Park Press: https://www.app.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/10/26/vote-yes-nj-school-bond-referendum-blistan/1769709002/
NJ Business & Industry Association President and CEO Michele Siekerka’s opinion article in the Star Ledger and on NJ.com: https://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/10/njbia_vote_yes_on_securing_childrens_future_bond_a.html