Horace Mann had the right intentions when he brought reform to the public school education system. I’m sure he would have never imagined how much he has done for all of us, especially the economically disadvantaged. Could he foresee the schools of his time would become these great buildings of constant learning? As we move into a modern technology-driven age, we have forgotten the need to invest in our school facilities. Our school buildings are aging rapidly and with the release of the new state budget, we are going to feel the pressure of trying to maintain these facilities even further.
With the Jersey City School District losing a tremendous amount of state aid, almost a deficit of $27,192,633, we are all concerned for our children. With Jersey City charter schools receiving only about $0.73 out of each dollar from the district, we are limited even more. We are unable to afford necessary upgrades that will help our students further their learning and restrict them from any chance of expansion.
Throughout NJ, there are schools such as TECCS that rent their space and cannot simply upgrade their facility. Not only would the cost be too great, the owners might not allow or partner with the schools to cover the costs. Unlike district schools, charters pay facility costs from their per-pupil funding.
There are schools, traditional or charter, without air conditioning which makes learning miserable for students when the temperatures are soaring. Even prompting some schools throughout the state to close due to excessive heat. It is not simply installing the air conditioners in the windows, it requires electrical work and upgrades to handle the increase of power that won’t interfere with the current electrical functions within the school.
All of these issues add up, not just monetarily, but for our students. They deserve the best and safest learning environment possible. We need to demand better facilities funding now. Take action and talk to your elected officials about what your schools need! It is more important now, more than ever.