Revised Bill Continues Speaker’s Commitment to Improving State’s Vocational, Technical Programs; Making Vo-Tech Education a Viable Alternative to 4-Year College
(TRENTON) – Revised legislation Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Democrats Angelica Jimenez, Mila Jasey and Annette Quijano sponsored that would streamline construction of county vocational school facilities in New Jersey was approved 68-4 Thursday by the Assembly.
“As I’ve said before, college isn’t necessarily for everyone; we need to have multiple viable paths to employment in New Jersey,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Students who might struggle in AP courses or college may thrive in a vocational instruction environment, and we should encourage investment in that infrastructure so that New Jersey continues producing a highly skilled, highly trained and highly educated workforce.”
This latest legislation dovetails with previous bills dealing with vocational education that were signed into law in 2014.
The bill (A-3970) would supplement the state Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act (EFCFA) to permit a county vocational school district to request that a county improvement authority construct – and finance via bonding – vocational school facilities that have been approved by the state Department of Education (DOE).
“I’m a product of vocational education myself, and I’ve done all right,” continued the speaker. “If we’re going to tell kids that there are viable alternatives to going to a four-year college and getting a degree, then we need to make sure that the opportunities and facilities are there to support them and give them the skills they need to become productive members of the workforce.”
“Under our current system, many students can feel discouraged because the traditional college-prep curriculum doesn’t complement their individual skills and abilities,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “This bill builds upon our efforts to strengthen vocational education in New Jersey and make sure all students feel capable of one day being able to work and support a family.”
“Every young person in our state has potential, and it’s our collective responsibility to tap into it,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “This legislation will allow New Jersey to expand career and technical education so that all students can discover and develop talents that otherwise may have been ignored.”
“New Jersey has made strides toward dispelling the myth that a four-year college is the only route to success in recent months, and this bill further advances that mission,” said Quijano (D-Union). “With this bill, we emphasize our core belief that any student who works hard and has a dream – regardless of whether it’s to go into medicine or masonry – ought to be able to pursue his or her goals.”
The bill initially passed the Legislature in March, but was conditionally vetoed by the governor. Under the changes, the bill authorizes – rather than require – the use of design-build contracts for school facilities projects, and a county improvement authority would follow Schools Development Authority design and building standards for design-build school construction projects.
The bill will now be referred to the Senate.