The New Jersey Legislature has approved a bill that would provide an education alternative for children in three under-performing public school districts.

The "Urban Hope Act" allows nonprofit groups to build, manage and operate alternative or renaissance schools in the failing districts of Newark, Trenton and Camden.

Approved nonprofits could use state funds to help pay their lease, mortgage or debt service for the land or building. A nonprofit running an alternative school would receive 95 percent of the per pupil cost from the district.

The Senate approved the measure 35-3 on Monday -- the final day of the legislative session -- after more than an hour of debate. The Assembly later passed it by a vote of 56-17-1.

Gov. Chris Christie has signaled his support of the bill.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)