As the clock ticks to the end of the budget year, the Legislature not only moved the budget as well as several revenue raising items to support their proposal to make next year’s payment, but also moved several school related measures to the Governor’s desk for final approval.
CPR Training for Students
The Legislature approved legislation, A-2072 (Fuentes) / S-235 (Allen/Vitale),June 23 that would require districts to provide CPR training to students in high school beginning with the incoming 2014/15 school year freshman class by a vote of 77-0-1 in the Assembly and 39-1 in the Senate. NJPSA worked with the sponsors to ensure that districts have proper time to implement the legislation before its effective date and also successfully sought an amendment to ensure that a district requirement would not disadvantage a student’s ability to graduate should a student not complete the training. NJPSA supports the measure as amended.
Farm to School Measures
In addition several Farm to School measures were approved. These include:
- A-2642 (Andrzejczak) – Allows contributions to "New Jersey Farm to School Program. Specifically, the bill allows the Secretary of Agriculture to solicit and accept private and public monetary contributions to help fund the “New Jersey Farm to School Program” (program). The objective of the program is to provide agricultural products to school food service departments to serve healthy meals to improve student nutrition, provide health and nutrition education opportunities that will last a lifetime, and support local farmers. This legislation passed by a vote of 40-0 in the Senate on June 23. It was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 77-0 in March.
- A-2643 (Space) – Establishes "Best in New Jersey 'Farm to School' Awards Program" to annually recognize the best farm to school programs implemented by a school or school district. Specifically, this legislation directs the Department of Agriculture, in coordination with the Department of Education and any appropriate agricultural or farming organization, to establish an awards program to be known as the “Best ‘Farm to School’ Awards Program” for annual recognition of schools or school districts with outstanding achievements in the incorporation of ‘farm-to-school’ principles into their school meal and snack programs. The program’s ‘farm-to-school’ principles are to include, but not be limited to:
- the innovative use of local farm produce and products in a school;
- outstanding and consistent high levels of nutritional balance and excellence in the use of farm produce and products in a school; and
- quantifiable increases in pupil awareness of the contribution of farmers and farms to the quality of a school’s meal or snack program.
This measure also unanimously passed the Senate on June 23, having been approved by the Assembly back in March.
- A-2644 (Dancer) – Directs the Dept. of Agriculture to establish a clearinghouse website for farmers to offer produce and dairy products for use by school breakfast programs, school lunch programs, and food banks. This legislation also directs directs the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Education and the Department of Health, to establish and maintain, or partner with a nonprofit organization to establish and maintain, a website to serve as a clearinghouse for farmers to provide produce and dairy products to school breakfast programs, school lunch programs, and food banks throughout the State. The bill requires the website to include a list of schools, school districts, and food banks with a need for produce or dairy products, organized by county, with hyperlinks to each individual school, school district, or food bank website. The provisions of the bill would take effect 12 months after the date of enactment. This measure was unanimously approved, with changes, by both houses on June 26.
Further, the legislative bodies focused in on School Closure procedures via legislation, S-966 (Rice), that l provides that a school district board of education or State district superintendent must obtain approval from the Commissioner of Education prior to implementing a school closure. An application for approval of a school closure must include assurances that the proposed closure:
- is consistent with the district’s approved long range facilities plan;
- will not lead to an increased use of temporary facilities;
- will not contribute to unlawful segregation of student populations; and
- will not cause unreasonably burdensome transportation requirements for students.
These assurances are similar, but not identical, to those currently required under State Board of Education regulations. 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. The bill’s provisions would be applicable to any school closure plan submitted for approval on or after January 1, 2014.