OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Senator Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, successfully advocated for millions of dollars in direct state budget aid to Legislative District 11 public school districts, most of it to support mental health services in schools.
“Our school districts are financially stressed and addressing the alarming spike in youth depression and other mental health issues has added to that financial pressure,” said Gopal, who chairs the Senate Education Committee and is the Senate Majority Conference Leader. Gopal has been working in a bi-partisan effort with legislative leadership in Trenton to secure direct funds for the residents of the 11th Legislative District. “These budget appropriations will help our school districts address mental health issues without being forced to cut other programs,” Gopal said.
The following Legislative District 11 school districts will receive state budget aid to support mental health services: Ocean Township and Eatontown, $500,000 each; Freehold Township and Red Bank, $200,000 each; Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Red Bank Regional High School, Shrewsbury Borough, and Tinton Falls, $100,000 each.
“We place great value on providing a safe, nurturing, and challenging learning environment for every student, every day and these additional resources will help our students achieve their BIG dreams.”
“This extra funding will be well used at SBS and I look forward to working with you in the future to support all of our learners,” said Shrewsbury Borough School Superintendent Brent MacConnell.
Shrewsbury Borough School Superintendent Brent MacConnell commented. “This extra funding will be well used at SBS and I look forward to working with you in the future to support all of our learners.”
Dr. Raymond J. Boccuti, Chief School Administrator, Principal of the Neptune City School District, thanked Gopal enabling Neptune City educators “to address important needs that would not have been possible without the support.”
Gopal also successfully advocated for $40 million in the state budget for School-Linked Youth Services Programs, which are helping educators address student mental health and other student needs throughout the state. A portion of those funds are going to School-Based Youth Service Programs such as the SOURCE at Red Bank Regional High School, which provide important services including free mental health counseling and telehealth; crisis interventions and other services.
“This funding will be used to improve the educational experience of our students and promote everyone’s success and wellbeing,” said Red Bank Regional School Superintendent Lou Moore.
The budget also includes $250,000 for Keys Academy, a recovery high school located at Brookdale Community College, as well as $250,000 to support Brookdale’s new Social Impact Collaboratory to be located on the College’s Lincroft campus.
“Collaboratory programs such as master classes, skill development workshops, business pitch competitions, and project-based learning opportunities will bring faculty and students together with local entrepreneurs, small business owners, and non-profit organizations in a mixed-use space designed for business ideation, innovation, and acceleration,” Stout said.
Gopal also successfully advocated for a $25,000 grant from the state budget appropriation the Freehold Township Education Foundation, which supplements the curriculum in township schools by funding creative and innovative projects not covered in the school budget.
“This grant will be used to bridge the gap where tax dollars stop and classroom needs continue, thereby enhancing student knowledge, skills and competitiveness,” said Foundation Chair Hetal Patel.
Gopal has successfully sponsored numerous pieces of legislation to provide access to mental health services, including support for the NJ Child Mental Health Collaborative Program; the Visiting Nurses Association to expand Mental Health Programs; expanding telehealth for mental health, and requiring Medicaid reimbursement for covered behavioral health services provided by local education agencies.
Numerous mental health and education organizations have recognized Gopal for his work on mental health issues, including the Mental Health America, which honored him last year as one of 11 state legislators nationwide for championing mental health.
Senator Vin Gopal serves as Senate Majority Conference Leader and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Elected in 2018, a lifelong resident of Monmouth County, Senator Gopal represents residents of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbor, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township, and West Long Branch in the State Senate.