Should public schools be allowed to operate child care centers?

There was a lot of emotion in the room as two sides debated whether public schools should be allowed to operate private child care centers open to public. The assembly hearing was held at the state house on Thursday.

Up for discussion was a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones to launch a pilot program for fifteen districts to operate day cares for infants as young as six weeks old.

“We do not want to disrupt a system that for parents and small business owners alike, feels like a delicate balance. The study would be commissioned to take a hard look at the positive or negative effects on independent care providers, school districts, parents, and most importantly, on the children,” she said.

Opponents of the bill raised a myriad of concerns – from health and safety issues to the impact on taxpayers, if private centers close because they can’t compete.

“It will have a devastating effect on the taxpayer because number one, we pay taxes. Public schools do not pay taxes. How will that affect municipalities when they lose that tax money,” said New Jersey Child Care Association President Kathy Feigley.

The bill was voted out of committee but assemblywomen at Thursday’s hearing agreed more work needs to be done, and they reserved the right to vote it down on the floor.

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