On June 1 and 5, various Senate and Assembly committees met to advance bills related to K-12 education, including a bill that would eliminate the high school graduation proficiency test.
Senate Transportation Committee
On June 1, the Senate Transportation Committee approved:
Extend Service Life of School Buses A-5329/S-3734 would extend the service life of school buses from 15 years to 20 years, while specifying that it does not “allow the use of any school bus for pupil transportation purposes if that school bus is determined to be unsafe or unfit for pupil transportation.” The bills next head to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration. NJSBA supports the bill.
Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee and Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee
On June 5, the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee and Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee advanced:
Eliminate High School Exit Exam A-4639 would eliminate the high school graduation proficiency test, which is required under current law to be taken in the 11th grade. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the State Board of Education from requiring “as part of the standards from graduation from secondary school … that any secondary school pupil achieve a satisfactory performance on any Statewide proficiency test.” The bill would also allow adults and out-of-school youth that have not previously been granted a diploma, but met all other high school graduation requirements, to apply for a state-endorsed diploma. The bill was previously discussed twice in the Assembly Education Committee. The NJSBA supports the bill, which next heads to the Assembly floor for further consideration. Its Senate counterpart, S-3308, has not yet been scheduled for a committee vote.
School Counselor Requirements A-1516 would establish several requirements related to school counselor certification and employment. The bill defines the role of a school counselor as someone who recognizes and responds to the need for mental health services that promote social and emotional wellness and development for all students and is tasked with designing and delivering a comprehensive program for school counseling that promotes the achievement of students. The bill would require:
- Each school counselor employed by a district must provide certain school counseling services including, but not limited to, specific services enumerated in the legislation.
- School counselors to complete professional development in relevant areas, such as the promotion of mental health awareness and trauma-informed counseling.
- School counseling certification programs at institutions of higher education to incorporate the American School Counselor Association’s national model for comprehensive school counseling programs or state-approved model. The programs would also have to provide training in the delivery of social and emotional learning programming as well as postsecondary and career planning.
- The commissioner of education to appoint a state school counselor liaison to work with school districts to facilitate best practices and serve as a resource expert for school counselors.
NJSBA supports the bill. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Its Senate counterpart, S-2323, was approved by the Senate Education Committee in May 2022.
Sustainable New Jersey Fund A-4167 would establish the “Sustainable New Jersey Fund” in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Under the bill, the DCA would be required to annually distribute money in the fund to a public institution of higher education that has an existing contractual relationship with a qualified nonprofit organization that offers certifications and grants to municipalities and public schools across New Jersey in support of efforts to realize environmental, economic and social sustainability. The public institution of higher education would then be required to distribute the funds to the nonprofit to support the provision of such certifications and grants. NJSBA supports the bill.
Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee
Ticket Prices at Postseason Athletic Events S-2902/A-5568 revises legislation enacted in 2007 related to ticket prices at postseason athletic events. Under the bill, a school district would not be permitted to join any voluntary association that oversees activities associated with statewide interscholastic sports programs if the association requires increased ticket prices for attendance at playoff games compared to regular season games, unless those increased ticket prices are required to offset event-related expenses including, but not limited to, rental, staffing, security, or insurance costs. The bill would provide that in addition to the requirement that prices of postseason tickets be increased only to offset event-related expenses. In the case of a playoff game held at a public school, a school district would not be permitted to join an association that increases adult ticket prices at that playoff game by more than 300% of the cost of a regular season adult ticket charged for a comparable event at the school district where the playoff game is held.
The bill would also require that the association offer discounted prices on student tickets for playoff games due to economic hardship. In addition, the association would be permitted to offer discounted ticket prices for other groups as deemed necessary by the association in consultation with the school district where the playoff game is held. The association would be required to file playoff game ticket prices with the New Jersey Department of Education no later than 60 days prior to the scheduled playoff game, although the association would be able to subsequently file adjusted playoff game ticket prices with the commissioner no later than 30 days prior to the scheduled playoff game.
NJSBA is monitoring the bill. S-2902 passed the Senate; the bills now head to the Assembly floor for further consideration.
To view the full text of any of the bills summarized above, please visit the New Jersey Legislature’s website.