TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which calls on Congress to enact the “School Energy Crisis Relief Act,” a federal energy assistance program for public school districts, was approved by the Senate today by a voice vote.
“With the price of oil still in flux, and the potential for bigger gas price hikes in the future, school districts are being hit the hardest when it comes to paying for heating,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “Many of these districts, such as my own school district in Marlboro, are on tight budgets as is, and are even considering turning off the heat to make ends meet. It is incumbent on public officials to provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for our kids to thrive, and high heating costs are jeopardizing that environment.”
The resolution, SR-13, calls on Congress to approve the “School Energy Crisis Relief Act,” a federally-funded energy assistance grant program which would award funding to school districts that have been hit the hardest by heating and transportation costs in the 2005-2006 school year. Under the Act, student population and the regional cost of transportation and heating fuel would also come under consideration.
In New Jersey, school districts have been forced to take drastic steps to mitigate the effects of skyrocketing prices in heating and transportation fuel. Some districts have resorted to shutting off heat during certain hours, or lowering the overall temperature in the schools, while others have looked to cut in other areas to pay for heating expenses.
“Adequate heating for our kids shouldn’t be a luxury item that’s scaled back when heating prices are high, but at the same time, heating expenses shouldn’t jeopardize other areas, such as extracurriculars and academic programs,” said Senator Karcher. “We need to recognize that school budgets are stretched to the limit, and that unexpected costs like heating fuel hikes can break a budget. Our schools need some outside help, and hopefully Congress steps up and provides the necessary funds to provide some relief from the high cost of heating our schools.”
The resolution now gets filed with the Secretary of the State, and a copy will be transmitted to Congress.