Statehouse Update:  Week of April 15, 2024

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With the NJ Department of Education and the Schools Development Authority testifying before Budget members in both the Senate and General Assembly, school funding has been the talk of the Statehouse. While many legislators question the efficacy of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) altogether, others are working on a more short term solution for the approximately 140 districts that stand to lose state aid this year. 

Legislation introduced in, and advanced by, the Assembly would create a grant program and provide school districts with greater flexibility to close funding gaps. School districts facing aid reductions in the proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget would have the opportunity to apply for increased funding under the proposed legislation. Bill A-4161 would provide grants to eligible districts in order to prevent teacher layoffs and cuts to crucial programs.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Roy Freiman and Assemblywomen Mitchelle Drulis, Pamela Lampitt, and Andrea Katz would create a one-time Stabilized School Budget Aid Grant Program within the New Jersey Department of Education and appropriate $71.4 million for the program. Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education would provide an aid grant to an eligible school district that applies to the program after verifying that the school district is subject to an aid reduction in the 2024-2025 school year.   

Under this bill, eligible school districts that saw a reduction in their 2024-2025 State school aid could receive up to two-thirds of the reduced amount. In order to receive the aid, the school district must not reduce the total number of employees compared to the pre-budget year if student enrollment is expected to remain steady.

The legislation also gives options and flexibility to school districts to determine, in certain situations, how they want to further close the financial gap. 

This week, the full General Assembly passed the legislation by a vote of 52-20. However, the State Senate has not yet acted on the bill. NJPSA supports this legislation, and is in continued talks with the Senate about moving this important legislation. 

The same day, the Assembly also took action on legislation to address the bus driver shortage.  A-2180 would create a new “Type S School Bus Certificate” to be issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. The certificate would authorize a person to operate a Type S school bus to transport children to and from school without obtaining a commercial driver’s license, passenger endorsement, or school bus endorsement. A Type S bus is a school transportation vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 3,000 pounds or more, and which was originally designed by the manufacturer with a maximum seating capacity of nine passengers or less, excluding the driver. The NJPSA supports the bill, which was unanimously approved by the Assembly. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

To view the archived proceeding of NJDOE Acting Commissioner Kevin Dehmer and SDA CEO Manny Da Silva testifying before the Assembly Budget and Appropriations committee, click here.

To view the archived proceeding of NJDOE Acting Commissioner Kevin Dehmer and SDA CEO Manny Da Silva testifying before the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee, click here.

For more information about the legislation that would restore certain portions of State school aid reductions, or any other action in Trenton this week, please contact your NJPSA Government Relations team at