Jersey City high school students will have the chance to play a role in how money is invested in their schools this year.
Education Council Chairman Mussab Ali said seniors from each of the school district’s eight high schools will vote on how $ 10,000 will be spent to improve each of the schools. The final sum of $ 20,000 will be given to the student representative on the school board for a district-wide project or program.
He said $ 100,000 has been set aside in the 2020-2021 school budget to include students in the budget process.
âIt was important for us to want to do something that makes them feel like part of the process,â Ali said on Monday. âIt’s a way for them to get involved in this process and really figure out what they think is both needed in the school district, but they also want to stand up and see. “
Ali said the students would recommend projects, whether they were improvements or additions such as a community garden; and the options will be voted on by the whole class. He noted that the money cannot be used for field trips or anything of that nature.
Jersey City high schools include Infinity Institute, Dickinson High School, Innovation High School, McNair Academic High School, Ferris School, Liberty High School, Lincoln High School, and Snyder High School.
The school board adopted a school budget of $ 814 million for the 2021-2022 school year in May, the first fully funded school budget in years. The $ 100,000 earmarked for seniors represents about 0.0001% of the budget.
School board student representative Miriam Tawflies, senior at the Infinity Institute, said it would make many students in the school district feel empowered.
âThis money has the potential to create much needed change,â said Tawflies, 17. âI feel like it allows a lot of students to feel liberated because most of the time we don’t feel like we have as much as other communities.
Tawflies is not yet ready to announce its plan for the $ 20,000, as it plans to include the city’s student council in the decision-making process. Ideas she heard about included creating a science program that will allow high school students to teach elementary school students and a program to help children at risk of suspension.
Ali, who will end his term on the school board in December, said the school board also hopes to allocate $ 100,000 in next year’s school budget.
âAs administrators and board members, I want to keep a close eye on the different projects they come up with because it also shows where students think there are gaps in our school system,â Ali said. .
Deputy Superintendent Norma Fernandez said guidelines have yet to be established for students on how the funds are used. She said it’s great for students to learn about budgets and to be able to make recommendations on how the money will be spent.
âBy the time our elders graduate they can vote, so it’s really an application for citizenship when we allow them and we give them a safe environment to learn the process,â Fernandez said. âI think this is a great way to bring in a very important aspect of voting, to be a good citizen and steward of your school to implement things that will benefit the students and that would really bring positive results. “