On Wednesday, Feb. 15 the General Assembly held a voting session and approved the following measures impacting local school districts:

A-3785 requires the state to pay educational costs of students who reside in a homeless shelter outside a district of residence for more than one year. The state would be required to pay the educational costs of any student who resides for more than one year in a domestic violence shelter or transitional living facility or homeless shelter located outside the student’s district of residence. A series of administrative law decisions have ruled if a homeless family continues to reside in a particular school district for more than one year, then the family is considered to be domiciled in that district, and the district becomes responsible for the costs of the child’s education. This bill will avoid concentrating the educational costs of students who live in homeless shelters for an extended period of time in the communities in which the shelters are located. NJSBA supports the bill.

A-3944 requires the New Jersey Department of Education to develop an educational fact sheet for distribution to parents of student-athletes and cheerleaders concerning the use and misuse of prescription opioids. This bill requires the commissioner of education, in consultation with the commissioner of health, to develop an educational fact sheet that provides information concerning the use and misuse of opioid drugs in the event that a student-athlete or cheerleader is prescribed an opioid for a sports-related injury. The bill also requires school districts and non-public schools that participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading programs to distribute the fact sheet annually to the parents or guardians of student-athletes and cheerleaders, and to obtain a signed acknowledgement of the receipt of the fact sheet by the student and his parent or guardian. This is to ensure that young people and their parents are educated as early as possible about the dangers of opioid abuse and addiction. NJSBA supports the bill.

A-4352 provides for elimination of newly formed non-operating school districts; establishes procedures for eliminating deficit that existed prior to merger; authorizes renting of school building for 10 years. This bill provides for the elimination of non-operating school districts that were established after the effective date of P.L.2009, c.78. Under that law, the executive county superintendents of schools were required to develop a plan for eliminating the non-operating school districts in their counties. To date, 14 such school districts have been eliminated; however, additional districts have subsequently become non-operating school districts. This bill specifies that if, at the time of a required merger, a school district has a deficit in its general fund, then the commissioner of education will require that the district that incurred the deficit raise a supplemental general fund tax levy to eliminate the deficit. Any such supplemental tax levy would be in addition to any increase that is authorized under the tax levy growth limitation, and the commissioner will determine if the supplemental levy will only affect the current year or if it will be a permanent increase. The bill increases the term under which a Type II school district may rent buildings for school purposes without voter approval. Under current law, a district may, in the case of emergency, enter an agreement to rent a building for a term of five years. This bill increases the maximum term to 10 years.

ACR-227/SCR-134 expresses the Legislature’s intent that school districts and public institutions of higher education continue to act as safe zones and protect identities and data related to undocumented students and families. This nonbinding resolution expresses the Legislature’s intent that school districts and public institutions of higher education continue to serve as safe zones and resource centers for students and families threatened by immigration or discrimination to the fullest extent provided by the law. The resolution further expresses the intent that those same institutions continue to protect the data and identities of any undocumented student, family member, or school employee who may be adversely affected by future policies or executive action that results in the collection of any personally identifiable information to the fullest extent provided by the law. The resolution was approved by the full Senate earlier this month.

AR-156 urges school districts and nonpublic schools to adopt policy to address abuse of prescription opioids by students. This Assembly resolution urges school districts and nonpublic schools to adopt a policy, as suggested by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Medical Advisory Committee, to address the abuse of prescription opioids by students. The policy would include: notification to the school nurse by the student’s parent or guardian if an opioid medication has been prescribed; and drug monitoring if the student demonstrates any signs or symptoms that raise the possibility of opioid abuse during or beyond the duration of the prescription.