The State Board of Education honored the state Teacher of the Year, heard presentations on Future Ready Schools – N.J. and other topics, and took action on pending regulatory proposals at its October meeting.

National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Membership Month The State Board adopted a resolution honoring the 115,000 PTA members in New Jersey who have served the needs of children, teachers, parents, and schools through active volunteerism in 600 local PTAs across New Jersey.

2017-2018 New Jersey Teacher of the Year The State Board of Education honored the 2017-2018 New Jersey Teacher of the Year, Amy Andersen, an Ocean City High School teacher of American Sign Language. See related story inSchool Board Notes.

Future Ready Schools–N.J.NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Larry Feinsod and Director of Business Development Patty Maillet, along with officials from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, presented to the State Board about this collaboration with the NJDOE designed to help New Jersey school districts identify and meet their needs for digital learning. The “Future Ready Schools–New Jersey” (FRS-NJ) program is designed to promote digital learning throughout New Jersey’s elementary and secondary public schools, and to engage students in developing 21st Century skills by encouraging the best use of digital learning tools by educators. The program helps school leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential.

Regulatory Equivalency and Waiver The State Board adopted rules governing the equivalency and waiver process and providing the opportunity for regulatory flexibility for school districts and most programs regulated by the department. An equivalency is permission to meet the requirements of a rule through an alternative means selected by the district board of education. A waiver allows a district board of education to avoid compliance with the specific procedures or substantive requirements of a rule for reasons that are educationally, organizationally, and fiscally sound. The rules require a school district’s educational community, including parents, administration, and staff members, to be informed of the proposed equivalency or waiver and be provided the opportunity to comment.

Educational Facilities/Lead in Drinking Water The State Board readopted rules requiring immediate testing for lead in the drinking water of all New Jersey school districts. The potential exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water poses serious health problems, particularly for children, as well as for teachers and school personnel, since the risk of lead contamination can come from pipe and plumbing fixtures in educational facilities. The specially adopted rules, were proposed for readoption, with amendments instituting drinking water testing at all drinking water outlets and food preparation sources. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has determined the $10 million appropriated for reimbursement will be enough to cover all eligible expenses for all school districts required to complete the testing. NJDOE expects to be able to reimburse 100 percent of eligible expenses. The date for making the initial reimbursements has not yet been determined. The $10 million dollars was included in the fiscal year 2017 budget to cover the cost of testing during the current fiscal year.