Magazine article Techniques

New Jersey Students Demand Voc Ed Funds

Magazine article Techniques

New Jersey Students Demand Voc Ed Funds

Article excerpt

Two high school freshmen, residents of Pompton Lakes in Passaic County, New Jersey, are demanding that their home county foot the bill for their vocational education in neighboring Bergen County. Under state law a school district must pay for students to attend a vocational education program in another county if the home county does not offer a comparable program.

One student is enrolled at the Academy for Engineering and Design Technologies and the other in the Academy for Business and Computer Technologies, both of which are run by the Bergen County vocational district. The Pompton Lakes school board, however, has refused to pay the bill, which is about $17,950 per student, plus transportation expenses. The school board is arguing that the academy programs in Bergen County are not "vocational education," but rather magnet schools "hiding behind the smoke screen of a vocational title," according to Pompton Lakes school board member Evie Peruzzi.

"They are providing the type of education that one would find in a private institution here in New Jersey," Peruzzi adds. "Advanced placement classes for high academics do not belong in vocational schools. There is a place for mainstream education and there is a place for vocational education. Of course, voc ed must expand and improve with the times right along with mainstream education, but the two should not be competing with one another."

Peruzzi says the school board would have to dish out nearly $50,000 to cover the students' tuitions and transportation expenses when it's allowed to spend only about $7,800 per student in Pompton Lakes.

But upon review of the situation in late January, state Commissioner of Education Leo Klagholz told the school board it had to pay. The school board quickly appealed, saying the academies do not qualify as vocational education under the Perkins Act. …

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