On Monday, May 8, Gov. Phil Murphy signed A-1791/S-3306 (P.L.2023, c.47), which establishes a “Career and Technical Education Scholar Awards” program to recognize outstanding career and technical education students. According to the legislation, recognizing the achievements of CTE students throughout the state will highlight the importance of CTE in addressing the demands of business and industry for highly skilled and trained workers.

Under the law, the awards program would annually recognize CTE students who:

  • Demonstrate a high level of achievement in a CTE program as well as academically.
  • Successfully complete a college-level course or a work-based learning experience.
  • Participate in a career and technical education student organization or a community service project that demonstrates the application of career and technical skills.

The New Jersey Department of Education will administer the program in consultation with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. NJDOE will establish an application procedure and criteria and guidelines for the eligibility, nomination and judging of applications for the awards program. Award recipients would be posted on the website for NJDOE, which would also recognize recipients through other methods, such as a certificate or a press announcement.

Community Schools Bill On the Move

Several committees also met at the State House on Monday, kicking off one the busier times on the legislative calendar before the traditional summer recess.

The Assembly Community Development and Affairs advanced A-1168, which establishes a five-year “Community Schools Pilot Program.”  A community school is defined as “both a place and set of partnerships between a school and other community resources whose integrated focus on academics, health and sciences, youth and community development, and community engagement lead to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.”

The purpose of the pilot program would be to facilitate an establishment of community that demonstrates a commitment to the four pillars of: integrated student supports; expanded learning time and opportunities; family and community engagement; and collaborative leadership and practice. The commissioner of education will identify an institution of higher education or a qualified nonprofit organization whose mission is to facilitate high quality community schools in New Jersey to manage the pilot program. Under the program, any school district, renaissance school, or charter school will be able to receive training and ongoing support regarding the establishment and operation of a community school.

NJSBA supports the bill, which will now got to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

NJSBA Opposes Anti-Privatization Bill

The Senate Labor Committee advanced a measure that would establish various procedures and standards regarding the privatization of public services contracts, including those entered into by local boards of education.

Among other provisions, the bill (S-1350) would:

  • Allow union representatives of public employees to review privatization proposals prior to the solicitation of bids.
  • Require private contractors pay wages and benefits to their employees that are equal to or exceed wages and benefits paid to their public sector counterparts.
  • Require contractors to hire public employees who are displaced from their employment due to the privatization of services.

The NJSBA opposes the legislation and publicly testified against the bill when it passed through committee on Monday. The Association argued that this bill will impose costly and burdensome requirements on school districts seeking to get the most efficient use of their finite resources. NJSBA further argued that a 2020 law (P.L.2020, c.79) already establishes various requirements boards of education must follow before entering into subcontracting agreements, while including several protections for district employees, thus making this legislation unnecessary.

The bill next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

To view the full text of any of the bills summarized above, please visit the New Jersey Legislature’s website.