ASSEMBLY, No. 2276

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

211th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 9, 2004

 

 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman ANTHONY CHIAPPONE

District 31 (Hudson)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Requires full-day kindergarten in all school districts by the 2005-2006 school year and establishes a Statewide uniform age requirement for enrollment in kindergarten.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    As introduced.

 


An Act concerning kindergarten programs in public school districts and revising parts of the statutory law.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. (New section) a. By the 2004-2005 school year, all school districts which are classified in district factor groups A through DE shall establish full-day kindergarten and maintain it thereafter.

    b. By the 2005-2006 school year, all school districts which are classified in district factor groups FG through J shall establish full-day kindergarten and maintain it thereafter.

 

    2. Section 12 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-12) is amended to read as follows:

    12. The commissioner shall establish, based on the standards issued pursuant to section 4 of this act, a basic per pupil T&E amount, and shall develop appropriate weights reflecting the differing costs of providing education at the kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school levels, which weights shall be applied in determining a district's T&E budget as set forth in section 13 of this act. The T&E amount for the 1997-1998 school year shall be $6,720, which shall be adjusted for inflation by the CPI for the 1998-1999 school year. The weights for kindergarten, elementary (grades 1-5), middle (grades 6-8), and high school (grades 9-12) levels for the 1997-98 school year shall be 0.5, 1.0, 1.12 and 1.20 respectively. In subsequent years, the T&E amount and the school level weights shall be established biennially in the Report on the Cost of Providing a Thorough and Efficient Education, with the T&E amount adjusted for inflation by the CPI in the second year to which the report applies. For the 2004-2005 school year and thereafter, the weight for full-day kindergarten shall be 1.0 in accordance with the requirement for full-day kindergarten pursuant to section 1 of P.L. , c. (C. ) (now pending before the Legislature as this bill).

    For the 1997-98 school year, the T&E flexible amount shall be $336, and the T&E range shall be from $6,384 to $7,056. These figures shall be adjusted by the CPI for the 1998-99 school year. In subsequent years, the T&E range shall be established biennially in the Report on the Cost of Providing a Thorough and Efficient Education, with the T&E range adjusted for inflation by the CPI in the second year to which the report applies.

(cf: P.L.1996, c.138, s.12)


    3. Section 16 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-16) is amended to read as follows:

    16. a. Early childhood program aid shall be distributed to all school districts with high concentrations of low-income pupils, for the purpose of providing [full-day kindergarten and] preschool classes and other early childhood programs and services.

    For districts in which the concentration of low income pupils is equal to or greater than 20% and less than 40%, aid shall be distributed according to the following formula:

    Aid             =         A1       x          Modified District Enrollment.

    For districts in which the concentration of low income pupils is equal to or greater than 40%, aid shall be distributed according to the following formula for the purpose of expanding instructional services previously specified to three year olds, or of providing, in addition to the instructional services previously specified, transition and social services to primary grade students:

    Aid             =         A2       X         Modified District Enrollment where

    A1  =         $465; and

    A2  =         $750.

    For the 1998-1999 school year, the per pupil funding amounts shall be these amounts multiplied by the CPI. For subsequent years, the amounts shall be established biennially in the Report on the Cost of Providing a Thorough and Efficient Education and shall be derived from cost analyses of appropriate programmatic applications of these funds as identified in the report. The amounts shall be adjusted for inflation by the CPI in the second year of the period to which the report applies.

    County vocational school districts and limited purpose regional high school districts meeting the eligibility criteria of this section shall receive aid payable under this section as demonstrably effective program aid in addition to amounts received pursuant to section 18 of this act.

    Each district which receives early childhood program aid shall submit to the commissioner for approval an operational plan that shall be a subset of the district's comprehensive strategic plan, to establish preschool [and full-day kindergarten] for all four [and five] year olds by the 2001-2002 school year and to maintain them thereafter. Districts shall appropriate the aid in a special revenue fund for expenditure, but may place all or a portion of the aid in a capital reserve account during the first four years to establish facilities for these purposes. During the first four school years following enactment of this act, districts may use early childhood program aid for educationally meritorious programs or for the purpose of constructing new school facilities or enlarging existing school facilities for use by pupils other than those enrolled in early childhood programs, provided the new or enlarged facilities are used for and are adequate to house the planned early childhood programs. Districts which maintain progress consistent with the implementation plan may also use the funds for demonstrably effective programs pursuant to section 18 prior to establishing the programs required pursuant to this section. The commissioner shall establish guidelines to track the specific purposes of expenditures under this section.

    b. A district which qualifies for early childhood program aid pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be eligible to receive the aid for a minimum of two school years from the time of initial determination of eligibility even if the district's concentration of low-income pupils falls below the 20 % or 40% concentration required for receipt of the early childhood program per pupil aid amounts under subsection a. If a district's concentration of low-income pupils falls below the 20% or 40% thresholds, the amount of the early childhood program aid received by the district in the prebudget year ,hereinafter referred to as the eligibility year, shall be reduced in the subsequent budget year by the percentage decline between the ratios of the number of low-income pupils to modified district enrollment used in the calculation of aid in the eligibility and budget year. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, if a district is eligible for a greater amount of aid pursuant to subsection a. of this section, it shall receive that amount.

    A district which receives early childhood program aid pursuant to this subsection shall not be eligible to receive instructional supplement aid pursuant to subsection c. of section 18 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-18c).

(cf: P.L.2000, c.147, s.2)

 

    4. N.J.S.18A:38-5 is amended to read as follows:

    18A:38-5. No child [under] attaining the age of five years after September 1 of that school year shall be admitted to any public school, except such as may be provided pursuant to law for children of his age.

    No board of education shall be required to accept by transfer from public or private school any pupil who was not eligible by reason of age for admission on [October] September 1 of that school year [, but the board may in its discretion admit any such pupil if he or she meets such entrance requirements as may be established by rules or regulations of the board].

(cf: N.J.S.18A:38-5)

 

    5. N.J.S.18A:44-2 is amended to read as follows:

    18A:44-2. The board of education of any district [may] shall establish a kindergarten school or kindergarten department, which [in order to receive State aid] shall be a one-year program in advance of or in preparation for entrance to first grade, in any school under its control, and [may admit to such kindergarten school or department any child over the age of four and under the age of five and] shall admit to such kindergarten school or department any child over the age of five and under the age of six years as of September 1 of that school year who is a resident of the district.

(cf: P.L.1996, c.138, s.72)

 

    6. This act shall take effect immediately and shall first apply to the 2004-2005 school year.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill requires that all school districts in the State offer a full-day kindergarten program by the 2005-2006 school year. The bill phases in the requirement over a two-year period. By the 2004-2005 school year, all school districts which are classified in district factor groups A through DE will be required to establish full-day kindergarten and by the 2005-2006 school year, all school districts which are classified in district factor groups FG through J will be required to have a full-day program.

    The bill amends the provisions of the State’s school funding law, the “Comprehensive Educational Improvement and Financing Act of 1996" (CEIFA) P.L.1996, c.138, to revise the kindergarten weight used in calculating a school district’s weighted enrollment from 0.5 to 1.0. This change reflects the fact that a full-day program is mandatory and should therefore be supported at that level in a school district’s T & E budget. The bill also revises the provision of CEIFA that establishes the early childhood program State aid category (ECPA). Since full-day kindergarten will be supported through a district’s T & E budget, the requirement that ECPA be allocated for that purpose is eliminated and those funds will be used to support preschool and other programs in the qualifying districts.

     The bill also revises the age requirement for admission to enter kindergarten. Under current law, a local school district decides on the date by which a child must attain the age of five in order to be eligible for admission into kindergarten. Also under current law, a school district that establishes a kindergarten program must admit to kindergarten a child who is over the age of five and under the age of six as of the date of eligibility established by the district and may admit a child to kindergarten if the child is over the age of four but under the age of five.

    Under this bill, any school district which operates a kindergarten program may only admit a child if that child has attained the age of five on or prior to September 1. The bill will provide a uniform age of eligibility for kindergarten throughout the State and will help to ensure that children admitted to kindergarten will be at a similar point in terms of emotional and social development. Those districts which want to provide educational services to students who are below the age of five may do so through preschool programs.