The following measures affecting school districts passed both houses late last month and are on the governor’s desk:

‘Safe Haven’ Instruction  S-1126/A-1380 requires the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to ensure that information about  the “New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act” is included in the standards for public school students in grades 9 through 12. The act allows an individual to give up an unwanted infant safely, legally and anonymously. The bill also mandates that the NJDOE take appropriate action to ensure that each school district incorporates education on the act that is age-appropriate for high school students.  NJSBA supports the bill, which would go into effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

Deaf Education Working Group S-2045/A-1893 establishes a Working Group on Deaf Education in the NJDOE, which will make recommendations on issues related to the early linguistic development of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.  The working group will consist of 15 members appointed by the New Jersey Commissioner of Education and is charged with examining and making recommendations to the NJDOE and the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) for:

  1. The development of a parent resource guide for parents to monitor and track deaf and hard-of-hearing children’s expressive and receptive language acquisition and developmental stages toward English literacy;
  2. The selection of one or more early intervention assessments to be used by educators to assess the language and literacy development of deaf and hard-of-hearing children; and
  3. The development of methods of evaluation to annually collect and publicly report data on language acquisition and developmental progress of children from birth to age five who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

The bill also directs NJDOE to develop and disseminate guidance to school districts on early intervention assessments to understand the language and literacy development of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

NJSBA supports the bill, which would become effective immediately upon the governor’s signature.

STEM Teacher Grants S-2660/A-4098 establishes a grant program in the NJDOE for STEM teachers.  Under the program, an eligible teacher may receive additional pay to teach science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) classes at a nonpublic school.  Participating nonpublic schools would form partnerships with eligible teachers and school districts, in which a teacher employed by the district teaches STEM classes at the nonpublic school at such times and during such hours mutually agreed upon by the teacher, nonpublic school, and school district. The Commissioner of Education will award grants based upon review of the applications submitted by nonpublic schools and within the limit of available funds.  Approved grant funds will be allocated by the NJDOE to the school district of each eligible teacher participating in the grant program, and the district will use the funds to provide compensation to a participating teacher.

While the bill includes an appropriation of $5 million, the fiscal year 2020 budget bill passed by the Legislature and signed on June 30 by the governor does not include any funding to support the program.

Enhancing SHBP/SEHBP Oversight S-3042/A-4619 aims to save on health care costs by increasing oversight of the third-party administrators of the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and School Employees Health Benefits Program (SEHBP). Among other provisions, the bill requires the state to procure a third-party medical claims reviewer for the SHBP and the SEHBP. The third party medical claims reviewer will provide regular, frequent, ongoing review and oversight of the claims process, and will maintain a secure archive of medical claims and other health services payment data. NJSBA supports the bill.

Later School Start Time Pilot S-3160/A-4865 establishes a four-year pilot program in the NJDOE on later school start times for high school students. The program would implement later school start times for high school students in selected school districts. It would study the issues, benefits, and options for instituting a later start time to the school day. The commissioner will select five school districts from urban, suburban, and rural areas of the state to participate in the pilot program. NJSBA supports the bill.