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Special needs advocates worry about the fate of a N.J. bill to extend services for students who have turned 21

Melanie Burney | June 10, 2021 | Philadelphia Inquirer |


Special needs advocates are worried about the status of a bill that would extend services for hundreds of New Jersey students who suffered learning loss because of the pandemic and will age out at the end of the school year.

They believe the bill, passed overwhelmingly by the state Legislature last Thursday, appears to have stalled on the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy. At issue is the estimated $11.1 million price tag, they say. The state could use federal stimulus money, but is considering other plans for those funds.

At his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, as has been his practice, Murphy declined to comment on pending legislation, saying only that he had “enormous sympathy with the challenge in the most vulnerable communities that have been crushed by this pandemic,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D., Burlington), the bill’s primary sponsor, expressed surprise that an internal debate has ensued over funding the program. She deemed it “unwarranted and unnecessary at best.”


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