In addition to adopting the FY2016 Appropriations Act and other budget-related bills, the Senate and General Assembly also advanced numerous pieces of education-related legislation in the past week, impacting local school districts. The following provides a rundown of recent legislative activity:
On Friday, June 26th the Governor signed into law A-3970, which would create a unique funding mechanism to facilitate the construction of county vocational school facilities. The measure initially passed the Legislature in March, but was conditionally vetoed by the governor. Under the changes, the bill authorizes – rather than requires – the use of design-build contracts for school facilities projects, and a county improvement authority would follow Schools Development Authority design and building standards for design-build school construction projects. The General Assembly concurred with the governor’s recommendations in May, and the Senate followed suit last Thursday. The bill, which the NJSBA supported, went into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.
The measure would amend the “Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act” (EFCFA) and authorize a county improvement authority to finance the construction of a new facility for a county vocational school district. A county vocational school district would request that the county improvement authority issue bonds to finance either the local share of a project that will receive an upfront grant for the state share of the project under EFCFA, or the total cost of a project that is eligible to receive state debt service aid under that same law. School facilities would be constructed pursuant to a design-build contract following procedures established by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
Bills Passed by Both Houses and Sent to Governor’s Desk
S-2032/A-3440 requires the State Board of Education to develop rigorous computer science curriculum guidelines and school districts to incorporate those guidelines in grades six through 12.
A-4485/S-2881 prohibits the withholding of state school aid based on student participation rates on the state assessments.
A-4587/S-3049 requires facilities providing services to persons with developmental disabilities and schools to adopt policies permitting administration of medical marijuana to qualifying patients.
A-1468/S-2513 establishes a Task Force on Engineering Curriculum and Instruction.
A-3079/S-2766 prohibits administration of standardized assessments in kindergarten through second grade.
A-3807/S-2169 permits educational research and services corporations to act as lead procurement agencies for local units, and publically supported educational institutions; permits the Council of County Colleges to act as lead procurement agency for county colleges.
A-3983/S-2574 authorizes supplemental state aid to school districts in municipalities with a significant decrease in commercial property valuation; makes appropriation.
S-1857/A-2699 establishes measures to deter steroid use among students; appropriates $45,000 to DOE for New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association testing of student-athletes for steroids and other performance enhancing substances.
S-300/A-4119 establishes “New Jersey Out-of-School Time Advisory Commission” to review before-school, after-school, and summer programs.
A-3500/S-1973 requires local recreation departments and youth serving organizations to have defibrillators for youth athletic events.
Bills Passed by General Assembly
S-165/A-448 authorizes a teacher leader endorsement to the instructional certificate. This bill now awaits concurrence in the Senate, which passed a previous version of the bill that was later amended in the Assembly.
A-1431 requires State Board of Education regulations regarding school nurse certification to include certain minimum eligibility requirements.
A-2888 requires teacher preparation programs for instructional certificates for teachers of students with disabilities endorsements to include credit hours in autism spectrum disorder.
A-3189 establishes assessment on criminal offenders for “School Safety and Security Fund.”
A-3601 requires DOE to create military-connected student identifier for inclusion in student-level database.
A-4288 named the “Secure Schools for All Children Act”; establishes state aid program for security services, equipment, or technology to ensure a safe and secure school environment for non-public school students.
A-4386 permits candidates for school board to circulate petitions jointly and be bracketed together on ballot; permits short non-political designation of principles on petitions and ballots; provides for study of impact of changes.
A-4415 establishes State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of bilingual proficiency.
Bills Passed by Senate
S-503 permits municipalities and school districts to contract for video monitoring systems to assist in enforcing the law against unlawfully passing a school bus.
S-1594 requires a public school district to provide a daily recess period for students in grades kindergarten through fifth.
S-2844 requires school districts and DOE to post on their websites information regarding student participation in certain assessments.
S-2922 requires DOE on its website to link to Department of Treasury’s website where a list is maintained of all third-party individuals and vendors employed or retained for work associated with state assessments.
S-2923 requires school districts or charter schools to provide notification to parents or guardians of enrolled students on upcoming administration of State assessments or commercially-developed standardized assessments.
SR-129 urges the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines on how students not participating in statewide assessment will be supervised and what alternate arrangements may be provided.