Legislation sponsored by New Jersey State Sen. Robert Singer would help more nonpublic school students receive reliable busing services. The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved the bill June 12 and has since been introduced in the Senate and forwarded to the Education Committee.
“Families who attend private schools are having to seek alternative transportation options as school districts face financial constraints in providing safe and dependable busing.,” said Singer (R-30). “This legislation would establish a transportation program for participating nonpublic school districts to facilitate broader access to reliable busing services for their students.”
Under current law, public and private school districts are responsible for transporting students who are within the state’s distance requirements, according to the Senate.
The state allocates funds to each school district to fund busing or aid-in-lieu of transportation that is paid to parents or guardians. Currently, New Jersey allocates $1,022 per pupil in public and private schools.
After multiple years of high inflation and volatile gas price fluctuations, nonpublic school districts are finding it difficult to secure contracts with busing companies to provide transportation for their students, Singer said.
In 2022, more students were given aid-in-lieu of transportation than were transported by the school districts.
Senator Singer’s bill, S-3850, requires the commissioner of the Board of Education to establish a nonpublic school transportation program to encourage private schools to collaborate to provide transportation more effectively for their students.
Participating private school districts would be required to disburse funds to the consortium in the amount equal to the aid-in-lieu for each student who is required by law to receive transportation. The consortium would then be responsible for using those funds to provide transportation for eligible students.
Additionally, the bill instructs the commissioner of the Board of Education to establish a committee that would be responsible for overseeing the operations of each consortium and their implementation of the transportation program.
“By establishing a consortium system for nonpublic school districts, we can relieve the financial burden felt by participating schools and concerned parents,” Singer added. “This bill provides an efficient cost-effective solution to address private school districts’ transportation challenges while reinforcing their responsibility to provide safe and reliable busing services.”