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home : news : issues July 24, 2017


7/7/2017 2:57:00 PM
N.J. Catholic schools see budget increases across the board
Transportation funding for nonpublic schools is one of the items approved in Gov. Chris Christie's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. File photo
Transportation funding for nonpublic schools is one of the items approved in Gov. Chris Christie's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. File photo
Words of Thanks

“We are most grateful to the parents and other supporters of nonpublic schools who wrote to their legislators via Voter Voice, directly through emails and phone calls regarding the importance of nonpublic school accounts in the 2018 state budget. We thank those legislators who were largely responsible for these accounts in the areas of transportation, nursing, security and technology. We commend legislative leadership including Sen. Stephen Sweeney, Senate president; Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, Assembly speaker; Assemblyman Gary Schaer, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee; and Sen. Paul Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consistently maintaining these increases in the final version of the budget.”~ George V. Corwell, Director, NJCC Office of Education

“On behalf of the Network of Catholic School Families, I would like to thank the members of the Senate and Assembly for their support for nonpublic schools,” wrote Koukotas. “The increases in transportation, security, nursing and technology will greatly benefit the approximately 15,293 students currently attending a Catholic school in the Diocese of Trenton and in all Catholic schools throughout the state. We extend our thanks to Sen. Stephen Sweeney, Senate president; Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, Assembly speaker; Sen. Paul Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and Assemblyman Gary Schaer, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. I would encourage parents, students and everyone who supports Catholic schools to email or call their legislator to thank them for their support. I would like to extend a big thank you to Sen. Linda Greenstein, District 14, and Sen. Anthony Bucco, District 25, for championing transportation, which led the way to the significant increase in funding for nonpublic school transportation, security, nursing and technology.” ~ Frances Koukotas, diocesan director of the New Jersey Network of Catholic School Families



By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

Gov. Chris Christie has signed the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, and for Catholic schools, desperately needed financial increases are included.

After months of petitions and requests through the New Jersey Catholic Conference – the public policy arm of the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey – and other advocates including the Network for Catholic School Families, the budget signed July 4 provides increased funding levels for nonpublic school transportation as well as nursing, technology and school security.

George V. Corwell, director of the NJCC office of education, wrote July 5 of the planned budget increases for nonpublic schools in a letter to state network directors, superintendents, leadership of the Diocese of Trenton and other agency leaders.

“This is a major victory, but we still have work to do,” Corwell said, referring to the need for nonpublic schools to make known to transportation companies their ability to bid higher for buses than in previous years, relieving a burden that had been leading to the loss of bus routes for some nonpublic schools.

He also thanked all those involved who fought for increased funding for Catholic schools, saying, “We are most grateful to the parents and other supporters of nonpublic schools who wrote to their legislators via Voter Voice, directly through emails and phone calls regarding the importance of nonpublic school accounts in the 2018 state budget.”

“We have a total of 7,662 responses through the Voter Voice,” Corwell said in his letter. “But . . . this number does not reflect the amount of work done through personal emails and telephone calls to the legislators’ offices.  In effect, this effort would not have succeeded without your diligence and your hard work.”

Frances Koukotas, diocesan director of the New Jersey Network of Catholic School Families, added her thanks to the elected officials who were responsive to the calls from the public.

“This was a bipartisan effort,” she noted. “They [the legislators] worked together on the budget and hammered it out until 1 a.m. We’re really grateful.”

“I would encourage parents, students and everyone who supports Catholic schools to email or call their legislator to thank them for their support,” she said.

The following increases can be anticipated based on the budget language:

Transportation: Increase from $884 to $1,000 per student allowable expense.

What this means: When researching transportation service for students, schools can now offer bus companies up to $1,000 per pupil for the 2017-18 academic year. The allowable amount had been frozen at $884 per pupil since 2007 – well below what it costs for most transportation options, which leads to schools facing a loss of busing, and correspondingly, loss in enrollment.

Nursing: Estimated $94 per pupil.

What this means: This represents an increase of more than $800,000 statewide for the year. The governor’s original budget request of $12.9 million for nursing services was almost $550,000 below the 2016-17 appropriation. Restored and increased funds will help nonpublic schools better afford a nurse on staff.

Technology: Set at $37 per student

What this means: The original budget request reduced tech funding for nonpublic schools by almost $1 million. Now not only restored, the 2017-18 statewide funding is almost $1.5 million more than the 2016-17 academic year.

Security: Restored to $75 per pupil

What this means: Originally eliminated in the initial budget proposal, security funding was added back into the budget, exceeding the per student amount of $50 for 2016-17. Security funds are used for safety features such as classroom window locks, window darkening shades, walkie-talkies, security cameras and security doors at building entrances and additional lighting around buildings.

This victory has been hard fought every academic year for almost 10 years. Students and principals of Catholic schools met with state representatives; letters to the editor voiced concerns over the budget; NJCC Action Alert links were posted and promoted.

 

 



Related Stories:
• In jeopardy: Catholic leaders deeply concerned over school funding cuts in Christie budget
• Bishops, NJCC ask lawmakers to fund safe transport for all students
• Catholic educators and advocates make the case with legislators for nonpublic school funds




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