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Senate Advances Bills to Bolster Career and Technical Education, Update Schools’ Water Infrastructure

TRENTON – In an effort to build up technical and vocational education programs, improve school security and ensure clean drinking water in New Jersey’s schools, the Senate today passed a series of bills that would allocate project grants from the Securing Our Children’s Future Fund, a bond initiative approved by voters in 2018.

Sponsors of the four-bill package include Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Sandra Cunningham, Senator Shirley Turner and Senator Dawn Addiego.

“There are few things we do here that are more important than investing in the hopes and dreams of our children,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “That includes providing them with every opportunity to learn and grow. This package of bills will provide students with job skills for the modern workforce, improve their safety and security in schoolrooms, and protect their health and well-being by ensuring clean water.”

The bill package includes:

S-3959, sponsored by Senator Addiego and Senator Turner, which appropriates $66,173,243 in grants awarded for various security projects in certain school districts. 

“We all know how important adequate school security is to the safety and well-being of our schoolchildren,” said Senator Addiego (D-AtlanticBurlington/Camden). “This allocation will bring more than just peace of mind to parents and guardians of our students, but will help provide real safeguards, such as installation of at least one panic alarm at each public elementary and secondary school to be used in case of a school security emergency.” 

S-3960, sponsored by Senator Cunningham, which appropriates $6,608,212 in grants awarded for water infrastructure projects in certain school districts.

“According to the World Health Organization, there is no known ‘safe level’ of lead exposure. Research has shown that even low levels of lead exposure can damage children’s health and impair their cognitive development,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “These grants will be targeted especially to help us begin to address a long neglected area of public health, and remediate drinking water contamination at our schools.”

S-3961, sponsored by Senator Cunningham and Senator Ruiz, which appropriates $26,456,996 in grants awarded for career and technical education at county colleges.

 “Our county colleges provide valuable career development to students around the state, providing them pathways to higher wages and greater upward mobility,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This funding will allow them to expand their services at a time when many residents are eager to pursue new opportunities.”

S-3962, sponsored by Senator Sweeney, Senator Turner and Senator Ruiz, which appropriates $222,904,769 in grants awarded for career and technical education expansion in county vocational school districts.

“County vocational schools have been eagerly awaiting this funding since the bond act was announced,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “We have an abundance of students eager to pursue training alongside their high school diploma and this allocation will allow schools around the state to accept more applicants, expanding opportunities and bolstering our labor pool.”