Following the whirlwind legislative activity in June, the State Legislature passed several pieces of education legislation, which are now under consideration by Governor Phil Murphy. Governor Murphy can sign, veto or conditionally veto these bills. The deadline for the Governor to act is August 27 when the Legislature has scheduled its next business session:
Here are the bills under consideration:
1. Opioid Antidote Administration in Schools – A-542 (Mazzeo), S-1830 (Ruiz)
If signed as passed, this legislation will require school districts, charter schools and nonpublic schools to develop a policy, in accordance with guidelines to be developed by the NJDOE, for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote to a student, staff member, or other person experiencing an opioid overdose. An opioid antidote is defined as any drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of an opioid overdose, including naloxone hydrochloride, which is administered via nasal spray or other FDA-approved means or methods.
The policy must include these components:
- It requires each school that includes grades 9 through 12 students and permits other schools to obtain a standing order for opioid antidotes pursuant to state law (Overdoes Prevention Act, C.24:6J-4).
- It requires those schools to maintain a supply of opioid antidotes under the standing order in a secure, but unlocked and easily accessible location. The board of education determines the quantities and types of opioid antidotes to maintain in consultation with the NJDOE and NJ Department of Human Services.
- It permits the school nurse, or a trained employee volunteer to administer the antidote to any person whom the nurse or trained designee believes is experiencing an overdose.
- Schools must make the opioid antidotes accessible in school during regular school hours and during school-sponsored functions that occur in school or on school grounds. Schools are given discretion in the bill to make these antidotes available during school-sponsored events that take place off school grounds.
The school nurse has primary administration responsibilities for the emergency administration of Narcan or other opioid antidotes in accordance with school policy and statute. Similar to the law for epinephrine and other emergency medications, the legislation requires the board of education to designate additional, volunteer school employees to be trained in emergency administration of an opioid antidote for circumstances when the school nurse is not physically present at the scene. The school nurse and/or an appropriate entity (first aid squads, fire departments, ambulance providers, rescue squad, mobile intensive care providers, etc.), must train these employees on standard protocols in overdose situations. In all cases, individuals who have received an opioid antidote must be sent to a hospital emergency room. All school employees, the school nurse and the board of education’s agents and officers are free from liability for their acts and omission in implementing this act in good faith.
2. Alyssa’s Law – Panic Alarms in School Buildings – A-764 (Caputo), S-365 (Rice)
For several legislative sessions, legislation was introduced to require public school buildings to be equipped with panic alarms linked to local law enforcement. After multiple attempts and some amendments, both houses of the Legislature passed A-764/S-365, which is now on the Governor’s desk for consideration. If signed by Governor Murphy, this bill will require all public schools to be equipped with at least one panic alarm (silent security system signal linked to law enforcement) or an alternative mechanism approved by the NJDOE for emergency situations. The alarm or system must meet nationally recognized industry standards of the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories and be installed by a licensed individual in the alarm business under state law. Some funding for these alarms is to be provided by bond proceeds of the School Development Authority. Districts who have already installed such systems will be eligible to apply for reimbursement funds. If signed, the bill will go into effect in June 2019.
3. Renaissance Schools – common enrollment and expansion – A-4181 (Egan Jones), S-2722 (Cruz-Perez)
A-4181/S-2722 requires the establishment of a common enrollment system in renaissance school districts (Camden) and expands the definition of the “urban campus” area, which permits the expansion of the renaissance school system. P.L. 2011, cl 176 (C.18A:36C-1 et seq.) provided for the creation of renaissance school districts whereby struggling school districts can enter into an agreement with a nonprofit entity for the construction and operation of new public schools in the district. The Camden school district is currently the only district in New Jersey with renaissance school projects. This bill clarifies the law to permit an expansion of the project geographically within the district, requiring the use of a common enrollment system and clarifying that renaissance school employees are members of the state –administered retirement systems.
4. A-4110 (Lopez), S-233 (Thompson) Lap and Shoulder Belts on School Buses
The Legislature has turned its attention to the issue of school bus safety in light of a fatal school bus accident this year. A-4110/S-233 is the first bill to be passed by both houses. This legislation requires school buses to be equipped with three-point lap and shoulder seat belts. If signed, the new law will be go into effect 180 days after signing and apply to new school buses manufactured after that date. In passing the legislation, the Legislature did note a local fiscal impact on schools noting that the marginal increase in cost to purchases school buses with lap and shoulder belts is $5,000 per bus. At the current school bus replacement rate, it will cost about $7.5 million to $10 million per year for up to 11 years to replace all 17,000 school buses that are currently not equipped with these lap and shoulder seat belts.
5. November Ballot Question – Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act – S-2293 (Sweeney), A-3902 (Benson)
The Legislature also passed legislation, S-2293/A-3902, which authorizes a one billion dollar bonding for the purpose of capital project grants to fund school security, county vocational and county college projects across New Jersey. Pursuant to New Jersey’s State Constitution, such public indebtedness must be placed on the ballot for voters to approve or disapprove. As a result, this legislation will present the $1 Billion bonding program to New Jersey citizens to consider on the November ballot.
For further information, please contact the NJPSA Government Relations Department.