Assembly Ed Moves School Funding Resolution & Bill Calling for Local Say in School Closure

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The Assembly Education Committee at its February 10 meeting moved several pieces of legislation associated with schools.  Among them was a resolution reiterating where the Legislature agrees and disagrees with the Administration on School Funding as well as a bill calling for local input when a school is proposed to be closed.  In addition the committee approved legislation calling for schools to implement a social media policy between faculty and students.

Legislature Reiterates Concern on the Ed Adequacy Report

The Committee approved a resolution objecting to certain recommendations included in the Administration's Educational Adequacy Report that could sharply reduce funding for at-risk children.  A similar resolution was passed during last year’s legislative session, rejecting Gov. Chris Christie's proposed school funding changes targeting at-risk and bilingual students.  That concurrent resolution directed the Commissioner of Education to submit a revised report to the Legislature that responds to these objections. The new resolution (ACR118) again notifies the governor that the Legislature objects to school funding recommendations for at-risk and bilingual students.  NJPSA testified in support of the resolution.

School Closure

In addition, the committee heard testimony on Assembly bill, A-2216 (Watson-Coleman), which establishes procedures for the approval of the closure of a public school. Under the bill, a school district board of education or State district superintendent would be required to obtain approval from the Commissioner of Education prior to implementing a school closure.  The bill also requires that a State district superintendent obtain the approval of the school district board of education prior to submitting a school closure plan to the commissioner.  This is consistent with existing regulation for most school districts.  Where the legislation may create an acute difference would be in state-operated school districts such as Newark and Camden as the legislation would require the school board a say in the process.  The bill’s provisions would be applicable to any school closure plan submitted for approval on or after January 1, 2014.  The Senate Education Committee approved their version of this legislation at their January 30 meeting.  NJPSA testified in support of the legislation.

Social Media in Schools

Finally, the Committee released legislation, A-1429 (Caride), which would require school districts to adopt policies concerning electronic communications between employees and students.   The policy must include provisions designed to prevent improper communications between school employees and students made via e-mail, cellular phones, social networking websites, and other Internet-based social media.  NJPSA also supports this legislation.  The Senate companion legislation was also approved by the Senate Education Committee on January 30.