On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Gov. Phil Murphy signed over 150 bills and resolutions into law, including several school-related measures.  That was the last day on which he could act on any legislation sent to his desk in the waning days of the 2018-2019 legislative session.  Any bills not signed by the governor are considered “pocket vetoed,” meaning they expire without becoming law. Such measures must be reintroduced in the new session and go through the entire legislative process again.

The following measures have been signed into law.  Unless otherwise noted, they went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature.

Restorative Justice in Education Pilot Program  S-2564/A-3519 directs the N.J.Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year “Restorative Justice in Education Pilot Program” to implement restorative justice practices in the public schools.  Under the bill, “restorative justice” is defined as a system of dispute resolution that allows all parties to be involved in defining the harm, and devising remedies, while giving the necessary attention to community safety, victims’ needs, and the need for offender accountability. Under the bill, the goals of the pilot program are to: 1) reduce racial disparities in school discipline; 2) improve the socioemotional and behavioral responses of students through more appropriate, and less punitive, interventions; and 3) to reduce recidivism rates among students who violate the school district code of conduct.

The program is to be established within six months.

‘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. Up to seven N.J. research universities will be selected for participation in the program.  The program will consist of two components: 1) a one- or two-week immersive, residential program for selected high school students who attend a partner high school and 2) an ACES Scholar program, which will provide students who have been accepted for admission to the university and are interested in pursuing a degree in a STEM discipline, with scholarship packages and enhanced academic support as they pursue their degrees.

Apprenticeship Pilot Program  S-3065/A-4657 directs the N.J. 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. Under the bill, a school district or institution of higher education that wants to participate in the program must submit a proposal to the commissioner which outlines the district’s or institution’s plan to offer intensive career counseling and a customized learning experience to participating students. The commissioner will select two districts in each of the southern, central, and northern regions of the state and will select, in collaboration with the N.J. Secretary of Higher Education, four institutions of higher education to participate in the program. The commissioner will submit a report on the implementation of the pilot program, which will include a recommendation on the feasibility of implementing the program statewide.

‘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. The consortium will work in partnership with the N.J.Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the local workforce investment board to address the highest areas of labor demand in New Jersey.  The purpose of the programs developed by the consortium will be to

  • foster collaboration between academic and non-academic entities;
  • provide students with the opportunity to earn stackable credentials that will increase the likelihood of employment in industries of high demand and future growth in the state;
  • develop a guided pathway for students to earn those credentials; and
  • allow enrolled students to choose among multiple program “stop-out points” (a point at which a student may exit a program with an industry-valued credential, with the opportunity to re-enter the program without penalty or loss of progress).

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 (MAST)  if the student lives outside of Monmouth County and more than 40 miles from the academy. The bill amends an existing law that required  a resident district to provide transportation to and from MAST for any of its resident pupils attending the school.The bill includes a “grandfather clause” requiring the resident district to continue providing transportation to any student currently attending MAST until such student graduates.

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 N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the N.J.Department of Education. These audits will be kept confidential, and would not be deemed public records under the Open Public Records Act and common law.  The audits, however, may be used for the purposes of allocating any state grants or loans made available for the purpose of school facility safety and security upgrades. The legislation also applies to nonpublic schools.The law goes into effect beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

Pre-Suspension/Expulsion I&R Services  A-4150/S-2742 requires a meeting between a student and appropriate school personnel (e.g., school psychologist, a school counselor, a school social worker, a student assistance coordinator, or a member of the school’s intervention and referral services team) after multiple suspensions or proposed expulsion from public school to identify behavior or health difficulties. The purpose of the meeting is to identify any behavior or health difficulties experienced by the student and, if appropriate, to provide the student with supportive interventions or referrals to school or community resources that may assist the student in addressing the identified difficulties.

Security Training for Subs  A-4151/S-2745 requires school security training for persons employed by public and nonpublic schools in a substitute capacity and for employees and volunteers of youth programs operated in school facilities. Prior to the bill’s final passage, the NJSBA successfully obtained amendments intended to make implementation more practical while ensuring that individuals who have oversight of a classroom or district-approved youth program are provided with important information on how to respond to a security emergency. The new requirement becomes applicable in the 2020-2021 school year.

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.  

Under the loan redemption program, the redemption of loans will equal 25% of the participant’s eligible student loan expenses, up to $5,000, in return for each consecutive year of full-time employment as a teacher of a STEM subject area in a public school.  The total amount of eligible student loan expenses which may be redeemed under the program, for four full school years, cannot exceed $20,000.  The program will provide for the loan redemption following the fourth consecutive year of full-time employment.  The bill directs the N.J. Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to give priority to teachers of STEM subjects employed in a low-performing public school,” as defined in the legislation.

The program will provide for the reimbursement of a portion of the eligible tuition expenses incurred by a program participant completing a master’s degree or Ph.D. program in a STEM subject or in completing 30 credits in a coherent sequence of courses in a STEM subject.  An eligible participant for tuition reimbursement must teach STEM classes at a public school for four years to receive the reimbursement.

Expanding Access to School Meals  S-4200/A-5855 requires the state to pay for reduced price breakfasts and lunches, so that there is no cost to eligible public school students.  Under the bill, the state will pay to school districts the difference between the federal allocation and the total cost of the reduced price breakfasts or reduced price lunches.  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.

Regulating Online Education Services Providers  A-4978/S-3498 prohibits online education services from using and disclosing certain information, engaging in targeted advertising, and requires deletion of certain information. This bill concerns the personally identifiable information of a public school student that is not publicly available and is created or gathered by, or provided to, the operator of an internet website, online service, online computer application, or mobile application that is designed and marketed for K-12 school purposes.

Send-Receive Coordination  S-3756/A-6115 implements a recommendation included in the New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group’s “Path to Progress” report. The bill requires the board of education of a limited-purpose regional school district to meet  annually with its constituent districts to:

  1. coordinate  the districts’ school calendars to ensure consistency, and
  2. review and analyze the curriculum of each constituent school district in order to facilitate consistency in the educational program and in the articulation and alignment of the curriculum.

Career and Technical Education Month AJR-180/SJR-112 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.

‘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.

Pocket Vetoes

As the governor did not take any action on the following bills that would have affected New Jersey public school districts, they did not get enacted into law:

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.

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.

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.

Permanent “Path to Progress” Panel  S-3770/A-6118creates a 12-member “New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Review Commission” to provide an ongoing review of state and local tax structure, economic conditions, and related fiscal issues.

The full list of all the bills the governor signed or vetoed is available here.