Senate Education Committee Continues Work on Pandemic Related Bills
The Senate Education Committee met in Trenton this week and advanced a number of measures to address issues caused by the ongoing pandemic including staffing and substitute shortages. S-2831 (passed 6-0) authorizes the State Board of Examiners to issue a certificate of eligibility to teaching candidates, including alternate route candidates, who hold the equivalent of a certificate of eligibility or a provisional certificate from another state. S-2832 (passed 5-1) allows a student, who is at least 20 of years of age and is enrolled in a regionally accredited institution of higher education, to have a minimum of 30 semester-hour credits completed at the institution at the time of applying for the substitute credential. NJPSA worked with other education stakeholders to secure an amendment to clarify that nothing in the bill would restrict school districts from establishing additional criteria for the employment of such substitute teachers.
S-2691 (passed 6-0) would provide budgetary flexibility to local government units and school districts to address the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the bill provides that due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, a local unit may anticipate any item of miscellaneous revenues in its calendar year 2021 or fiscal year 2021 budget, as applicable, in an amount that exceeds the amount actually realized in cash during the next preceding fiscal year.
SCR-124/ACR-190 (passed 6-0) petitions the federal government to enact legislation that provides additional emergency response funding to support the costs of safely reopening all schools following the COVID-19 pandemic.
S-2849 (passed 6-0) directs the Department of Agriculture, due to the public health-related school closures during the COVID-19 public health emergency, to request from the United States Department of Agriculture the necessary waivers to authorize participating schools or providers to: (1) extend the implementation of the Summer Food Service Program throughout the calendar year; (2) provide emergency food, non-congregate feeding services, and grab-and-go meals with no time restrictions under the Summer Food Service Program, the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program, or any other child and adult community food programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture; and (3) offer food, meals or other services through any of those programs on the grounds of a school, notwithstanding any restrictions otherwise imposed on providing the programs and services on school grounds.
S-2908 (passed 5-0 with one abstention) revises the subsidized child care assistance program reimbursement rate for participating licensed child care providers that enroll school-aged children during the 2020-2021 school year, and establishes limits on the number of hours of child care services provided to school-aged children enrolled on a “part-time” and “full-time” basis.
S-2899 (passed 4-1 with one abstention) establishes the Safe Remote Learning Program in the Department of Education to support the provision of remote instruction facilities by school districts, charter schools, and renaissance schools that implement a partial or full-time program of virtual or remote instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
S-2852 (passed 5-0 with one abstention) provides that certain employees of educational institutions may not be denied unemployment insurance (UI) benefits when those employees are denied employment during a summer or holiday break without assurance of reinstatement after the break. The bill clarifies provisions of the UI law making an education institution employee eligible for UI benefits during a summer or holiday break when the employee is not given a reasonable assurance of equivalent work after the break by specifying that in order for there to be reasonable assurances.
Senator Troy Singleton’s bill S-2811 (passed 6-0) requiring school report cards to include information concerning the number of mental health professionals and security personnel employed by each school district. NJPSA successfully collaborated on amendments to require the annual school report card to include information concerning all categories of mental health professionals who provide mental health services to students in the school district. As introduced, the bill would only have required the school report card to include information concerning the number of school psychologists employed by the district.