New Jersey voters on Nov. 6 approved spending $500 million to expand vocational-technical programs and improve security in school buildings.
The “Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act” was approved with 52 percent of the vote.
The state constitution requires voter approval of new debt.
Vocational schools lack the capacity to serve thousands of students who want to take career-oriented courses. According to a report released earlier this year by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), more than 17,000 students are turned away from vocational schools each year in New Jersey.
At the same time, many manufacturing and technical jobs go unfilled in the state because not enough workers are trained to do them, according to the report issued by the NJSBA’s Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Non-College Bound Learner.
The state Legislature initially approved a $1 billion bond question that was cut in half by Gov. Phil Murphy on Aug. 27.
Of the $500 million, $350 million would fund county vocational technical school expansions and enhanced K–12 school security. Another $100 million would upgrade water quality in school districts. Another $50 million is earmarked for community colleges.
New Jersey voters haven’t rejected a bond referendum since 2007 when they turned down borrowing $450 million to support stem cell research.