The New Jersey State Board of Education met for their monthly meeting on Wednesday, February 7, 2024. The meeting began with the appointment of Kevin Dehmer as an Assistant Commissioner to begin on Monday, February 12th. In honor of Career and Technical Education Month in New Jersey, the Board received a report on the Career and Technical Education Landscape in New Jersey.
The Board also heard an update from the Department on Teacher Recruitment and Retention Initiatives including programs such as Troops to Teachers, Loan Forgiveness, Extended Customer Service Hours, More efficient application process, user friendly website and a certification fee holiday. The State Board members asked the Department for hard data on what these new initiatives have done to address the “move the needle” on the teacher shortage. The Department thought it was too soon to tell, but will get back to the Board with real data as soon as it is able to be collected and analyzed.
Also on the agenda was a discussion of Chapter 22, Student Residency. The rules in N.J.A.C. 6A:22 establish procedures for districts to determine students’ eligibility to attend a particular school district free of charge based on the student’s residency, establish the process for charging tuition for students who are ineligible for free attendance, and include exceptions for nonresident students to attend a school district free of charge under limited circumstances. These rules apply only to parent-paid tuition; they do not apply to tuition charges between school districts. Based on the comments received, the Department is proposing an additional amendment at Proposal Level to include the exception that allows children of teachers in the school district to attend for free.
The NJDOE Division of Field Support and Services discussed the proposed readoption of Chapter 12, Interdistrict Public School Choice. This chapter sets forth the applicable definitions, rules, and responsibilities of school districts that participate in the Interdistrict Public School Choice program, including the student application and selection process, as well as the rules and responsibilities of the resident districts whose students leave to participate as choice students in a choice district. After the meeting, the State Board accepted public testimony. NJPSA member Stephanie Martinez, Principal of Hopatcong High School, testified before the board about the impact of interdistrict school choice on her district. Martinez’s testimony was very informative and was well received by the State Board members.
Finally, the State Board heard a presentation from the NJDOE Division of Finance and Business Services on Chapter 23A, which covers fiscal accountability rules for school districts, charter schools, renaissance schools, and Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities (APSSDs) ensure that public funds for education are spent responsibly.
The chapter expires April 6, 2024. The proposed changes for APSSDs in particular generated a lot of concern among stakeholders, Nearly 70 people appeared later in the day to testify in opposition to the current proposed changes.
The meeting is available for viewing on the Department’s YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/3IqvSdB. If you have any questions about any of the items discussed during the February meeting, or would like to learn more about testifying before the State Board of Education, please contact your NJPSA Government Relations team at Govermnetrelations@njpsa.org at any time. We would love to work with you!
The State Board will next meet on Wednesday, March 6th at 10 AM.
*NJPSA would like to say a special thank you to member Stephanie Martinez for taking the time out of her busy schedule to appear before the State Board in Trenton this week. We appreciate your advocacy!