More than 170 delegates have already registered to attend the Nov. 17 Delegate Assembly of the New Jersey School Boards Association to hear Senate President Steve Sweeney and former Education Commissioner Lucille Davy discuss how to control pension and health care costs.

“The Delegate Assembly will give our members who come from throughout the state a unique opportunity to hear directly from the Senate president and the former commissioner,” said NJSBA Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod. During the program, school board delegates — the appointed delegate to represent each school district at the Delegate Assembly — will be permitted to ask questions.

The meeting will be held at The Conference Center at Mercer, Mercer County Community College Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. Registration is at 8 a.m., with the meeting scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Review the full agenda.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, New Jersey’s pension system is among the most underfunded in the country.  The state’s combined pension and retiree health benefit liabilities of $151.5 billion are four times the size of the state’s annual budget.

Without changes to the pension and benefit structure, the cost of pensions and benefits will rise by $4.1 billion over the next four years and devour 26 percent of the state budget, according to the Path to Progress report released in August by a New Jersey Legislature workgroup. Sweeney and Davy helped lead the workgroup.

Among the group’s recommendations:

  • Merge all K-4, K-5, K-6, K-8, and K-9 school districts into K-12 regional districts to improve the quality of education and promote efficiency.
  • Shift new state and local government employees and those with less than five years of service into a lower-cost retirement plan.
  • Shift all state and local government employee and retiree health care coverage from Platinum to Gold.
  • Permit the establishment of two countywide school district pilot programs.
  • Explore the viability of transferring major assets such as the New Jersey Turnpike system to the state pension system to generate new revenue to cover pension costs.
  • Establish a state-level group to address special education, including funding the system and controlling costs.

The Delegate Assembly is the major policy-making body of the NJSBA. Two regular meetings of the NJSBA delegates are held each year, typically in May and November or December.

The Delegate Assembly Handbook and all other meeting materials will be distributed at the registration desk. Meeting materials, including the handbook, will be posted on the NJSBA website prior to the meeting.

Delegates may register online for the Nov. 17 Delegate Assembly on the Delegate Assembly web page. If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] or call Cindy Harrison at (609) 278-5254.