NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

Obituary: William J. Booth Jr. age 80, of Gloucester City, GHS Alumnus Class of 1952 |

Senate Panel OKs Bill for Longer School Day, School Year Pilot Program

The Senate Education Committee on Monday advanced a bill that would create a statewide pilot program to lengthen the school day and school year. Under the bill, S-2087, up to 25 interested school districts could apply to the state Commissioner of Education to participate in the three-year pilot, which has a goal of studying the effects that a longer school day and school year would have on student achievement.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Teresa M. Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Sen. Shirley K. Turner.  There is no requirement or mandate. The proposal also includes a provision to fund the pilot program through credits generated from the Corporation Business Tax.

NJSBA supported the proposal because it would allow for an exploration of one component of education reform at the discretion of local districts. Local determination would be preserved, as no district would be required to participate. In addition, the proposal identifies a supplemental revenue stream to fund the pilot without reallocating already scarce school aid resources.

Other Bills The committee on Monday heard other legislative proposals, supported by NJSBA, dealing primarily with student health:

  • A1902/S721, referred to as "Tabitha's Law," would require a parent or guardian to notify school administrators if a pupil will be absent. It also requires schools to notify parents in the event of an unexcused pupil absence. 
  • S64, a proposal which establishes measures to deter steroid use among students.
  • S1912, referred to as the "Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act," would establish measures to ensure the health of student-athletes.

Other bills considered at the Sept. 24 hearing included:

  • A718/S2123 – Requires the state Department of Education to biannually distribute a letter to school districts reminding districts of the requirement to enroll resident students regardless of immigration status. Sen. Mike Doherty pointed out that this requirement is already addressed in existing Department of Education regulations. NJSBA has no policy on this issue.
  • S459 – Prohibits a student from participating in high school graduation ceremonies unless the student has completed all graduation requirements. NJSBA opposed this legislative proposal, stating that it should be a decision of the local board reflecting a district's policy on the issue.

All of the bills were released from the Senate Education Committee and will be forwarded to the full Senate for future consideration.