Private and parochial schools in New Jersey may now link up with public school systems to save money on school supplies.
A bill approving such “joint purchasing” agreements was passed unanimously in both houses of the State Legislature and promptly signed into law last month.
“Including non-public schools in shared purchasing agreements enhances the ability of school districts to negotiate a better deal and lower their procurement costs,” said Assembly Member Amy Handlin (R-Dist. 13), a key sponsor of the bill, in a press release.
Josh Pruzansky, NJ regional director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, estimated that savings to Jewish day schools could amount to thousands of dollars each year from cost-sharing arrangements with public schools for such expensive items as utility bills and computer systems, along with books, paper, and janitorial supplies.
However, he said, there are stumbling blocks to be overcome before private schools can take advantage of the anticipated savings.
“We have to find places where two public school districts already have a joint purchasing bill and see whether any day schools fall into those two districts so they can also participate,” he told NJJN. “There are 600 public school districts in the state of New Jersey, and nobody really knows which of them have joint purchasing agreements. We have not yet gotten that information from the state.”
Added Pruzansky: “I hope this is a first step. Then, in the current legislative session, we can expand it to say any non-public school in any district can participate. I think it is to any school district’s advantage to allow any non-public school to participate. Hopefully we can expand it to all school districts in the state.”