Meeting of the Senate Education Committee – August 20

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On Thursday August 20th the Senate Education met in-person as the State house and voted to advance the following bills:


S-68 Requires students to complete free application for federal student aid as part of high school graduation requirements (Singer/Ruiz).  NJPSA and other education stakeholders were able to successfully negotiate amendments to change the completion of the FAFSA from being a graduation requirement (as the bill originally called for) to being part of the district’s implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Career Readiness, Life Literacies, and Key Skills.  This initiative will be targeted at junior and senior high school students. 


S-1848 Creates priority hiring pool for public school employment of certain individuals who were previously employed in school districts that experienced reduction in State school aid. (Gopal). This bill would create a Statewide priority hiring pool comprised of individuals who were formerly employed in school districts and whose positions were eliminated as a result of the school district experiencing a reduction in State school aid under the provisions of P.L.2018, c.67 (C.18A:7F-67 et al.).  Under the bill, when a school district that has experienced an increase in State school aid under that same law has a vacant position, an individual who is a member of the priority hiring pool and who is qualified for the particular vacant position must be given an opportunity to interview for the position before the school district may consider applicants who are not members of the priority hiring pool.  The bill would not affect the seniority rights established under existing law at N.J.S.18A:28-11 and N.J.S.18A:28-12 for the reemployment of a teacher in a school district who was previously dismissed by the district due to a reduction of force. NJPSA is seeking amendments on this piece of legislation and is working with the sponsor. 


S-2404 Postpones New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) review for certain school districts to accommodate disruption due to COVID-19 pandemic (Pou). As you know, under current law, each school district is required to undergo a comprehensive review under the State monitoring system, the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC).  To accommodate the workload involved in monitoring the school districts in the State, only a certain number of school districts are required to undergo the monitoring in any one year according to a schedule established by the Commissioner of Education.

This bill would postpone the comprehensive review under NJQSAC for certain districts in order to allow the school districts and the Department of Education to focus their time and resources in addressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The bill provides that the comprehensive review will instead take place in the 2021-2022 school year for any school district that is required to undergo (1) a comprehensive review in the 2019-2020 school year, which review was not completed due to the COVID-19-related school closures; or (2) a comprehensive review in the 2020-2021 school year.  These districts will be required to undergo their next comprehensive review, however, as if the postponement had not occurred.  Additionally, the bill stipulates that all school districts that are not subject to the bill’s provisions will continue to be monitored according to their regular three-year schedule.  The postponements permitted under this bill will not disrupt the schedule for any other school district’s comprehensive review.

The bill provides, however, that a school district may request and receive an exemption from the postponement of the comprehensive review under the bill.  The school district would undergo the comprehensive review when it was originally scheduled.

NJPSA supported this bill. 


S-2401 Prohibits public school students and employees from immediately returning to school after leaving the country during public health emergencies (Beach). NJPSA was able to successfully negotiate amendments adding a state or territory in the United States as designated in a quarantine advisory as well as permitting a student, teaching staff member, or any other employee of a school district to participate in virtual or remote instruction during a period in which the person’s physical absence is mandated under the bill. 


S-2259 Requires public schools to administer written screenings for depression for students in certain grades (Singleton/Ruiz).  NJPSA has been actively engaged on this bill, and has testified several times as this legislation has moved through the process.  We are continuing to work with the sponsor on amendments.  


S-2698 Requires State to enter into contract for COVID-19 related goods and services for purchase by school districts (Ruiz). This bill requires the State to award a contract for the purchase COVID-19 related goods and services by school districts.  The goods and services would include medical supplies and devices, among other things.  The State would not be limited to awarding contracts to one bidder.  If it is deemed advantageous, the State may award contracts to more than one bidder to fill the necessary demand for COVID-19 related goods and services. School districts throughout the State would then be permitted to purchase the goods and services under the contract.  Under the bill, the Commissioner of the Department of Education would be required to coordinate the purchase of goods and services by the school districts.  This bill would expire on July 1, 2022. NJPSA supported this bill.


If you have any questions or if we may provide additional information about these or any bills that are moving through the legislative process, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.  Debra Bradley Esq., Director, Government Relations or Jennie Lamon, Assistant Director, Government Relations