NJPSA testified with a myriad of education stakeholders on the state of special education in New Jersey schools March 22.
The hearing, called by the Joint Committee on the Public Schools allowed lawmakers and school advocates to exchange concerns and ideas for providing services and supports to special education students. 0NJPSA Director of Government Relations Debra Bradley testified in conjunction with NJPSA Special Education Committee Chair and Director of Special Services with the Dumont School District, Mr. Paul Barbato.
With ever-increasing costs for special education amid chronic flat state aid, a number of speakers asked lawmakers who sit on the committee to consider requiring that a family’s private insurance plan pick up the tab for services such as speech, physical and occupational therapy. These costs are now incurred by school districts. Others, including NJPSA, raised issues with the census based approach to how current school funding is meted out.
Other educators and education advocates who spoke during Wednesday’s hearing, which was held at the County College of Morris, raised the idea of shared services among districts to contain costs, supporting classroom aides who work with special-needs children, and school bus driver shortages due to a backlog in getting them certified. Also raised were issues with staffing, with several speakers raising concerns about teacher shortages in special education.
About the Joint Committee on the Public Schools
The Joint Committee on the Public Schools provides ongoing study of the system of free public schools; it’s financing, administration and operations, as well as to make recommendations for legislative action. Created by statute in 1975, the committee is comprised of 14 members of the Legislature. Appointments are made by the Senate President and Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly. The Members select leadership at the reorganization meeting, every 2 years. A subcommittee structure has allowed this committee to be involved in major legislative policies and proposals.