The 2018-2019 session of the New Jersey Legislature came to an end on Monday, Jan. 13 as the General Assembly and Senate held their final voting sessions.

In the waning days of the session, the Legislature sent dozens of school-related bills to Gov. Murphy for his consideration.  In addition, Murphy took action on various measures that were sent to his desk in previous weeks that the NJSBA had been actively tracking.

The following provides a rundown of the most up-to-date status of any education initiatives that have been acted on by either the Legislature or the governor over the past week.

Bills Signed into Law

The governor has signed into law the following measures:

Seizure Action Plans  S-4141/A-6011 (P.L.2019, c.290), entitled “Paul’s Law,” authorizes a parent or guardian to request use of an individualized health care plan for a student with epilepsy or seizure disorder.  The law takes effect immediately. For more details, click here.

Heat and Humidity Policy  S-2443/A-4754 (P.L.2019, c.293) requires school districts that participate in statewide interscholastic sports programs to adopt the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association heat and humidity practice policy for conducting practice in all sports during times of high heat or humidity. The law will go into effect at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. For more details, click here.

Emergency Action Plans  S-2494/A-4723 (P.L.2019, c.292) requires that a public school district and a nonpublic school that includes any of the grades six through 12 establish and implement an emergency action plan for responding to a serious or potentially life-threatening sports-related injury. The bill took effect immediately and will first apply to 2020-2021 school year. For more details, click here.

Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education  A-4710/S-3258 (P.L.2019, c.338), entitled the “Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act,” establishes various school district responsibilities in educating gifted and talented students. The law takes effect in the 2020-2021 school year. For more details, click here.

Promoting School Meals  S-2527/A-4062  (P.L.2019, c.307) requires the N.J. Department of Agriculture to develop promotional material for the “School Meal Program,” providing every school district with promotional material, such as pamphlets, presentation material, webinars, and sample letters schools may send to parents. The law takes effect immediately. For more details, click here.

Enrolling Immigrant Students  S-2980/A-4956  (P.L.2019, c.310) states that a school district may not condition student enrollment in a district on the fact that the N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) does not have the name or address of a parent or guardian on file. A related bill, S-2982/A-5324  (P.L.2019, c.311), was also signed into law. That measure clarifies that a child may not be excluded from public school based on membership in a protected category under the “Law Against Discrimination” or immigration status. Both laws took effect immediately. For more details, click here.

Increasing Diversity in Apprenticeships  S-3064/A-4656  (P.L.2019, c.313) establishes, in the State Employment and Training Commission, a Task Force to Develop a Statewide Plan to Diversify Apprenticeships. The law went into effect immediately. For more details, click here.

Funding Apprenticeship Programs  S-3066/A-4604 (P.L.2019, c.314) establishes a High-Growth Industry Regional Apprenticeship Development Grant Pilot Program to provide grants to help fund newly-established and federally-approved apprenticeship programs in high-growth industries.  The five year-program law will go into effect on April 1 and expire on July 1, 2025. For more details, click here.

Commission on Latino and Hispanic Heritage  S-3327/A-4995 (P.L.2019, c.321) establishes the Commission on Latino and Hispanic Heritage within the N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE). The purpose of the commission is to survey, design, encourage, and promote the implementation of Latino and Hispanic cultural and educational programs in this state. The law takes effect immediately. For more details, click here.

Bills Passed Both Houses, On Governor’s Desk

The following bills were sent to the governor in the ten-day period prior to the end of the 2018-2019 legislative session.  Per the New Jersey Constitution, Gov. Murphy has seven days from the last day of the session to sign any of these measures into law.  If he does not approve them, they are considered “pocket vetoed” and do not become law. Additional information on the bills will be provided in future editions of School Board Notes as the governor acts on them.

Restorative Justice in Education Pilot Program  S-2564/A-3519 directs the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to establish, within six months of the bill’s enactment, a three-year Restorative Justice in Education pilot program to implement restorative justice practices in participating public schools.

Career and Technical Education Month designates the month of February each year as “Career and Technical Education Month” in New Jersey to recognize and promote the many benefits of career and technical education.

‘ACES’ Scholarship Program  S-3685/A-5345 establishes the “ACES” (“Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science”) scholarship program to increase the participation of underrepresented students in the state’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce.

Depression Screenings  S-2835/A-3926 requires a board of education to ensure that students in grades seven through 12 annually receive a health screening for depression.

Tax Credits for Apprenticeships  S-3062/A-2049 provides businesses with a credit against the corporation business tax or the gross income tax for each employee working in an apprenticeship registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Tuition Waivers for Apprenticeships  S-3063/A-4655 requires public institutions of higher education to waive the tuition fees of certain courses which are qualified to serve as the classroom training or education component of a registered apprenticeship for eligible persons whose gross aggregate household income is below the state’s median annual income.

Apprenticeship Pilot Program  S-3065/A-4657 directs the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year youth apprenticeship pilot program to provide high school and college students between the ages of 16 and 21 an opportunity to develop valuable work skills while continuing their traditional education program.

‘Work and Learn Consortiums’  S-2303/A-4843 requires a county college and a county vocational school district to enter into a Work and Learn Consortium for the purpose of creating certificate and degree programs that lead to employment in industries in which there is a high demand for qualified employees.

MAST School Transportation Costs  S-1796/A-4693 would permit the school district of residence to provide aid in lieu of transportation to a pupil attending the Marine Academy of Science and Technology if the student lives outside of Monmouth County and more than 40 miles from the academy.

School Security Audits  A-4147/S-2744 requires school districts to conduct an audit of security features of district buildings, grounds, and communication systems using a standardized checklist and to submit the audit to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the NJDOE.

Pre-Suspension/Expulsion Meetings  A-4150/S-2742 requires a meeting between a student and appropriate school personnel after multiple suspensions or proposed expulsion from public school to identify behavior or health difficulties.

Security Training for Subs  A-4151/S-2745 requires school security training for people employed by public and nonpublic schools in a substitute teacher capacity and for employees and volunteers of youth programs operated in school facilities.

‘Financial Literacy Month’  AJR-118/SJR-157 designates April of each year as “Financial Literacy Month” in New Jersey to improve understanding of critical financial issues such as credit management, savings, debt management, and homeownership, and to significantly increase an individual’s likelihood of financial success.

Mitigating Mold Exposure  S-2897/A-1433 requires the N.J. Department of Community Affairs to establish procedures for inspection and abatement of mold hazards in residential buildings and school facilities, and certification programs for mold inspectors and mold hazard abatement workers.

STEM Teacher Loan Redemption  S-1832/A-211 establishes a loan redemption and tuition reimbursement program for public school teachers who teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes.

NJQSAC and State Takeover Districts  S-691/A-657 requires that if a school district satisfies 80% or more of the required N.J. Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) standards in an area of district effectiveness under state intervention, the state must return that area to local control.

Electronic Procurement  S-3137/A-1308, entitled “The Electronic Construction Procurement Act,” would require local government contracting units, including boards of education, to use an electronic procurement process for any construction contracts valued at more than $5 million. Amendments to the bill provide that boards of education will not incur any costs or fees related to the use of the required electronic procurement process, including any cost or fee related to the use or purchase of any required equipment or software. If approved, the bill will go into effect one year following enactment.

Expanding Access to School Meals  S-4200/A-5855 requires the state to pay the difference between the federal allocation and total cost of reduced-price breakfast or lunch. The bill appropriates $4.5 million for that purpose.

Child Care Services Pilot Program  S-3330/A-5066 establishes a pilot program in the N.J. Department of Children and Families to study the impact of child care services provided by community providers operating in public school facilities. The Legislature has now fully addressed concerns raised by the governor’s conditional veto of the bill.

Regulating Online Education Services Providers  A-4978/S-3498 prohibits online education services from using and disclosing certain information, or engaging in targeted advertising. It requires deletion of specific information in certain circumstances. The Legislature concurred with the governor’s conditional veto on the bill and returned it to him for final approval.

‘Path to Progress’ Initiatives

Legislation creating a more permanent panel resembling the group that originated the “Path to Progress” was passed by both houses and sent to the governor. Released in August 2018, the Path to Progress advocated several reforms with an eye toward greater fiscal solvency for the state. The report recommended, among other things, school district consolidation; greater state funding and engagement concerning special education; and pension/benefits reform.

This legislation (S-3770/A-6118) creates a 12-member “New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Commission” with six legislators and six public members appointed by legislative leadership. Notably absent from the panel are any governor’s representatives.

The commission is charged with studying economic and fiscal concerns confronting the state to assure that policymakers, academics, and the public are provided with information and analyses of the state’s policies and their implications. It will adopt an annual plan of work outlining significant economic or fiscal policy concerns confronting the state that will be studied by the commission during a calendar year.

The bill is now on Gov. Murphy’s desk for his final consideration. Murphy has not supported most Path to Progress initiatives, and he may not support this legislation.

The Legislature also passed a school-related Path to Progress recommendation. S-3756/A-6115  requires limited-purpose regional school districts to coordinate with constituent districts regarding school calendar and curriculum. More specifically those districts would have to:

(1) coordinate the school calendars of the limited-purpose regional district and the constituent districts in order to ensure consistency across the districts; and

(2) review and analyze the curriculum of each constituent school district to facilitate consistency in the educational program and in the articulation and alignment of the curriculum of students who will attend the constituent districts and the limited purpose regional district.

Passed Senate

The following bills passed the full Senate, but did not receive consideration by the Assembly before the session ended and would therefore need to be reintroduced in the new session that began on Jan. 14:

Anti-Hazing Policies  S-3628/S-3150, entitled “Timothy J. Piazza’s Law,” would expand the scope of hazing activities deemed unlawful and increase the penalties for any hazing incidents that result in injury, and require institutions of higher education, and public and nonpublic high schools and middle schools to adopt anti-hazing policies.

Student Journalists  S-1176 concerns speech rights of student journalists at public schools and public institutions of higher education.

Passed General Assembly

The following bills concerning school meal programs passed the full General Assembly but not the Senate:

A-4856, entitled the “Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act,” requires certain school meal information be provided to students’ parents, establishes protocols for identifying eligible students for meal programs, and prohibits stigmatizing students with bills in arrears.

A-5902  requires school districts to take certain actions to increase participation in free or reduced-price meal programs, prohibits shaming students with school meal bills in arrears, and prohibits certain district actions in collecting unpaid school meal fees.

A-5903  requires school districts to establish a “School Meal Fund” to assist students with school meal bills in arrears.