The Assembly Education Committee last week advanced a bill that would create a pilot program to increase the length of the school day and school year. The bill would also provide tax credits for corporate contributions to fund the program.
The bill, A-1391, was released unanimously by the Assembly Education Committee, and it must be reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee before it can advance to the full Assembly.
Three-Year Pilot The bill would increase the length of the school day and school year in up to 25 school districts that apply to take part in the three-year pilot program. The goal of the program would be to study the effects of a longer school day and school year on advancing student achievement, enhancing the overall school learning environment, and increasing educational offerings.
Under the bill, the commissioner of education would select the participating districts. By June 30 following the final year of the pilot program, the commissioner would submit a report to the governor and the legislature on the effectiveness of the program, and recommend whether to extend the program to more districts.
According to the state Department of Education’s School Report Cards, the average school day ranges from 6 hours and 30 minutes at the elementary level to 6 hours and 53 minutes at the high school level. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, New Jersey’s average school day is slightly below national averages.
Tax-Credit Funded Under the bill, the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of Treasury would establish a program to provide tax credits to corporations which contribute funding to the state Department of Education to fund the costs associated with the pilot program. According to the bill, the total tax credit of all participating corporations is capped at $24,000,000 the first fiscal year, $48,000,000 the second year, and $72,000,000 for the third year. If the sum of the amount of tax credits authorized in a fiscal year exceeds the aggregate annual limits, tax credits will be allowed in the order in which contributions are made until the limit is reached.
A Senate version of the bill, S-2087, has been introduced but has not been heard by committee.