The New Jersey State Senate has approved a bill to seek voter approval for $500 million in bond funds to significantly expand career and technical education opportunities in New Jersey through the construction and renovation of facilities and the purchase of state-of-the art equipment at county vocational-technical schools and county colleges.
The Securing our Children’s Future Bond Act (S-2293) also includes $500 million to upgrade security measures at New Jersey schools.
It is sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex) and Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris). Co-sponsors include Senators Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex) and Shirley Turner (D-Mercer).
“The Senators from both parties who supported this legislation recognize the tremendous need to expand quality career and technical education opportunities in New Jersey,” said Judy Savage, the executive director of the New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools. “This will be a game-changer for workforce development in New Jersey.
“All types of businesses in our state say they have a hard time finding employees with 21st century skills. At the same time, county vocational-technical schools are turn away thousands of students every year because our schools simply do not have the space to accommodate them,” Savage said.
“The need to close this skills gap is clear, and we are grateful to the Senate President and the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus for leading the effort to address this critical need,” Savage said.
County vocational-technical schools and county colleges are experiencing increased employer, student and parent demand for high-quality programs that lead to careers that require technical certifications and post-secondary education, but not necessarily a four-year college degree.
“This bond act will enable county vocational schools to create new career programs in key industries like logistics, advanced manufacturing, aviation, energy and health care. Preparing high school and adult students for technology-focused jobs is critical to New Jersey’s future economic growth,” Savage said.
Under the bill, $450 million would be allocated to projects at county vocational-technical schools and $50 million would be allocated to upgrade career and technical education programs at county colleges.
For projects approved for funding, counties would pay 25 percent of the costs, with the remaining 75 percent funded by the bond act.
The additional $500 million will support the cost of school security upgrades at K-12 schools throughout the state.
If approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Murphy, the bill would place the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act on the ballot in the November 2018 general election.