By Judy Savage
After many years of stagnant state funding for public schools, the Legislature is focused on restoring the distribution of state aid based upon current enrollment. County vocational-technical school leaders have been actively engaged in Senate and Assembly committee hearings throughout the state to highlight the importance of funding for career and technical education.
Statewide, enrollment in county vocational-technical schools has increased by 14% since 2009, but state funding has remained essentially flat. Additional funding is needed to recognize enrollment growth and keep career programs aligned with current and emerging workforce needs.
The NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools supports the Legislature’s efforts to restore enrollment-driven funding, and is asking lawmakers to consider the unique funding needs of county-based vocational-technical school districts.
Because of their economic mission, county vocational-technical schools need sufficient funding to create new programs, attract teachers from industry, and keep technical equipment and curricula up to date with industry demands.
But unlike local districts, county vocational school districts do not have the authority to levy school taxes and must depend on their county officials to provide funding. If county vocational schools were to lose aid, it would be difficult for counties, or the school districts that send their students to vocational schools, to make up for lost revenue.
County vocational-technical school leaders are encouraging legislators to move towards restoration of enrollment-based funding to help keep pace with rising costs and emerging workforce needs, while avoiding any aid reductions for growing county vocational schools.