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Leaders Address School Closures, Support UEZ Jobs Scholarship Act

ELIZABETH – Today, Senator Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan joined religious and minority leaders to address the closure of two parochial schools in Elizabeth and to support the UEZ Jobs Scholarship Act, legislation that would provide tax credits equal to the value of scholarships donated by corporations for low-income students in Urban Enterprise Zones. The legislation aims to empower parents to choose the best educational environment for their children and to allow students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to attend schools outside of their school district.

Senator Raymond Lesniak stated, “In the past 10 years, 100 Catholic schools have closed. This week, that trend hit our community with the announcement that both St. Anthony’s and Sacred Heart schools will close. We need immediate action to ensure that students in our community continue to have the opportunity to attend a private school of their choosing.

“There is a flip side to this coin. With each closure, our public schools are forced to absorb an influx of students. In the last 10 years, private school closures have increased our public school population by 40,000 pupils. To add insult to injury, the cost of a public school education is more than double the cost at faith based schools. The fiscal consequences of doing nothing will be devastating.

“The cost of the closings has been $600 mil a year to our taxpayers. The scholarships are a small fraction of that.”

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan added, “There are about 200,000 students in New Jersey that currently attend private schools. In a state that has the highest per-pupil expenditures on the planet, the impact on our education infrastructure and spending would be overwhelming.

“Our students deserve the best education possible and, while New Jersey has some of the top public schools in the nation, we need to ensure the viability of our private institutions as well. Private schools create a vibrant diversity in our education system and ensure that we have educational institutions that can meet the needs of all our children.”

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