N.Y. voters pass bond measure offering up to $38 million for Jewish schools


NEW YORK (JTA) – Voters in New York state passed a schools bond act that may provide up to $38 million in reimbursements to Jewish day schools and yeshivas.

The Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, one of three referendums on the state ballot Tuesday, authorizes the state comptroller to issue and sell up to $2 billion in bonds to finance educational technology equipment and facilities, the construction and renovation of pre-K facilities, and the installation of high-tech security features in school buildings.

The measure passed by a vote of 62 to 38 percent.

Included in the law is up to $125 million in technology funding for non-public schools in the state – namely religious and independent schools. That translates into about $250 per student, which may cover such material as interactive whiteboards, computer servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and high-speed broadband or wireless Internet.

There are about 151,000 Jewish day school and yeshiva students in New York, according to an Avi Chai study published last week. That translates into up to $38 million for Jewish students. The actual sum will vary by district.

Before the vote, Jewish day schools and day school advocates mounted a campaign to get parents to the polls to vote in favor of the measure. The voting drive was preceded by lobbying last winter in Albany, the state capital, to get the technology funding for non-public schools.

“Obviously we’re very happy,” said Jeff Leb, New York state director of political affairs for the Orthodox Union, which lobbied in favor of the measure. “I don’t think this will go a very long way in alleviating the day school tuition crisis, but hopefully it will free up some money that schools no longer have to spend on technology because that will come from this bond.”

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