NJSBA: Assembly Proposal Would Cut Local School Board Authority
New Jersey School Boards Association has serious concerns about amendments to a bill that it expects the state Assembly Education Committee to introduce on Monday.
The measure, A-3676, calls for revising several provisions of the state’s new public school monitoring system, the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJ QSAC).
If the amendments are approved, similar to an amended version of S-2136 that the Senate Education Committee released Nov. 20, the powers of the state commissioner of education would be greatly expanded to intercede in school district operations if a district’s performance falls below a certain level in the monitoring process of NJ QSAC. In an unprecedented manner, it would ultimately strengthen the commissioner’s control over all aspects of district operations and bypass the authority of the State Board of Education to adopt regulations, as well as eliminate opportunities for public input.
NJSBA also is cautioning its members about another expected change to the Assembly bill that would allow for the addition of a “highly skilled professional,” appointed by the state education commissioner, who would have the authority to hire, fire and overturn decisions made by a local school board or its chief administrator. The Association believes this would be an extreme and unnecessary infringement on local school district autonomy when a district is under partial or full state intervention. Therefore, NJSBA strongly opposes this amendment because it would give a non-resident of a community, who also is a political appointee, authority over local district operations.
This proposal is in addition to a joint legislative committee’s recent recommendations as part of the special session on property tax reform to create 21 executive county superintendent positions that would give the state Department of Education increased control over local board budgets and negotiations.
“While the current version of the statute indicates that the state education commissioner shall make every effort to appoint residents of the district, we believe that a non-resident would not possess the same understanding of the community and its needs that a resident would possess,” said Mike Vrancik, director of governmental relations for NJSBA.
The Association’s Governmental Relations staff remains in close contact with lawmakers and will attend the Assembly Education Committee to advocate NJSBA positions for maintaining local control of district operations. The panel will meet 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4 at the Statehouse Annex in Committee Room 16, 4th Floor.
Local school district members are urged to contact the Assembly Education Committee to strongly protest the granting of these powers and ask for reconsideration of these provisions. Members of the committee include:
Stanley, Craig A.- Chairman
Voss, Joan M. - Vice Chairman
Diegnan, Patrick J.
Malone, Joseph R.
Mayer, David R.
Truitt, Oadline D.
Wolfe, David W.
NJSBA will keep its members updated about the outcome of Monday’s committee meeting through its Web site and its weekly newsletter, School Boards Notes.