TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice, which would require Abbott districts to develop an after school program and submit it to voters for funding consent, was approved by the Senate Education Committee today.
“Closing the gap between lower-class and middle-class children requires both better schools and more equal chances for students to achieve,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “While we must continue to improve learning outcomes in the classroom, we must also reach out to our children after class. After school programs can reduce the barriers to achievement, and make a difference in the lives of New Jersey’s children and their families.”
“I believe that after school programs are important to the fight against gangs,” said Senator Rice. “If we give our children a safe place to go after school, they are less likely to join neighborhood gangs.”
Senator Rice’s bill, S-2523, would mandate that the board of education of each Abbott district develop a plan for a comprehensive program for after school activities. The plan would need to include: the goals and objectives of the program; the description of the recreational, academic and civic enrichment activities; the qualifications of the employees; the schedule; the eligibility requirements, and the overall cost.
According to Senator Rice, once the original plan is developed, the board would conduct two public hearings to receive community input.
“As we work to give all children the tools they need to meet our educational standards, we must be willing to do what it will take to get them there,” said Senator Rice. “Good schools alone are not enough. An after school program is a key ingredient in educational success. I have been working to get this type of legislation passed since the mid 80’s.”
Senator Rice also stated that the bill would require the cost of the program to be submitted to the voters. The amount of any additional general fund tax levy would not be permitted to exceed $2 million, added Senator Rice.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.