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On May 1, the governor signed into law P.L.2017, c.45, which permits newly-created regional school districts or enlarging regional school districts to determine apportionment methodology for their boards of education on a basis other than population. Under current law, most boards of education of regional school districts consist of nine members, with at least one from each constituent district.  The remaining seats are allocated to constituent districts on the basis of population. This bill maintains the size of the regional school district board of education, but permits a newly-created regional school district or a regional school district that will enlarge by adding one or more constituent districts, to determine, with the approval of the commissioner of education, an alternative apportionment method for its board. The boards of education proposing to create or enlarge a regional district would, by resolution, adopt a proposal to apportion the membership of the new board using an alternative apportionment method and if the commissioner approves the alternative apportionment, that apportionment method would be used in the statutorily-required study conducted to determine whether it is advisable to create or enlarge the regional school district. If, after the study, the commissioner determines that it is advisable to create or enlarge a regional school district, and the voters approve the proposal to create or enlarge the regional district, then the board of the newly-created or enlarged district will be elected in accordance with the alternative apportionment method. NJSBA supported the legislation, which is effective immediately.

Varsity Letters On May 8, the governor signed into law P.L.2017, c.62, that requires a school district that includes any of the grades 9 through 12 to adopt a policy to provide that a student in those grades who participates in any school-sponsored, interscholastic extracurricular activity that includes competitions in which the student competes against students enrolled in other districts may be eligible to earn a varsity letter. The law, which is effective immediately, does not require a school district to award a varsity letter or to establish any school-sponsored, interscholastic extracurricular activity.

Senate State Government Committee That same day, the Senate State Government Committee approved S-2676, a bill that would require a school board candidate to file with his nominating petition a specific affirmation that he has not been convicted of any of the disqualifying crimes listed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1. Under current law, a person is disqualified from membership on a board of education or a charter school board of trustees if the person has been convicted of certain crimes or offenses. A member must, within 30 days of election or appointment to the board, undergo a criminal background check for the purpose of ensuring that the member is not disqualified. In addition, current law requires a member of a board of education, before entering into the duties of the office, to take an oath that must include a specific declaration that the member is not disqualified from holding office due to a conviction of one of the disqualifying crimes or offenses.  A member who falsely swears or affirms that he is not disqualified due to a conviction is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. NJSBA supports the legislation.