By Dr. Larry Feinsod
I can’t think of a more critical time for local school board members, administrators and parents to engage state legislators in discussion than today.
As the Senate and Assembly complete deliberations over the 2017-2018 state budget, legislative leaders are proposing competing plans to correct the financial ills resulting from years of underfunding the state’s school finance formula.
Although school finance is front and center this time of year, there are other important issues before the Legislature, the state Board of Education, and the state Department of Education: student assessment; implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act; extending the state’s accountability regulations to approved private schools for students with disabilities, and changes to NJQSAC, the state’s monitoring system.
On Thursday, May 25, school board members will have a valuable opportunity to learn more about current education issues, and to share their concerns with state leaders. For the sixth consecutive year, NJSBA and the New Jersey PTA will co-sponsor the Legislative Day at the War Memorial in Trenton.
Our keynote speaker will be Senate President Steve Sweeney, who has been in the forefront of the school funding reform discussion. We have also scheduled a discussion program with two prominent superintendents centering on the current funding climate in school districts. In addition, a panel of key lawmakers will discuss education issues before the Senate and Assembly, and the president of the State Board of Education will provide an update on proposals before that policy-making body.
It promises to be an exciting and productive day. Registration for the program is free for school board members and school administrators and includes lunch and a continental breakfast. BTW: Free parking will be available at the Trenton Parking Authority Garage, adjacent to the meeting site. I encourage you to attend. Program and registration information is available on NJSBA’s website.
Of course, for school board members, advocacy for our students is never a one-day event. It must continue throughout the year. This summer, for example, NJSBA’s Governmental Relations team will continue its legislative district visits to the offices of Senators and Assembly members.
We will again partner with the Garden State Coalition of Schools on our annual legislative update at Workshop 2017. And NJSBA will issue calls to action through its text message platform, School Board Notes, and other means when important legislation is under consideration in Trenton and Washington.
However, our May 25 Legislative Day offers an immediate opportunity for you to enter into dialogue with the people who make decisions that affect our schools and students.