ASSEMBLY, No. 2961

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 17, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  AMY H. HANDLIN

District 13 (Middlesex and Monmouth)

Assemblywoman  CAROLINE CASAGRANDE

District 12 (Mercer and Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Authorizes executive county superintendent of schools to require implementation of shared services arrangements and to approve school district collective negotiations agreements prior to execution of agreement.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the authority of the executive county superintendent of schools, amending N.J.S.18A:7-8, and supplementing chapter 7 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    N.J.S.18A:7-8 is amended to read as follows:

     18A:7-8.  Each executive county superintendent shall:

     a.     Visit and examine from time to time all of the schools under his general supervision and exercise general supervision over them in accordance with the rules prescribed from time to time by the State board;

     b.    Keep himself informed as to the management, methods of instruction and  discipline and the courses of study and textbooks in use, the condition of the  school libraries, and the condition of the real and personal property, particularly in respect to the construction, heating, ventilation and lighting of school buildings, in the local districts under his general supervision, and make recommendations in connection therewith;

     c.     Advise with and counsel the boards of education of the local districts under his general supervision and of any other district of the county when so requested, in relation to the performance of their duties;

     d.    Promote administrative and operational efficiencies and cost savings within the school districts in the county while ensuring that the districts provide a thorough and efficient system of education. The executive county superintendent shall require collaboration among school districts in expanding the implementation of shared services among school districts within the county and outside of the county.  The executive county superintendent may require a school district to enter into a shared services arrangement with another district, a municipality, the county, or other unit of local government within that county for the provision of administrative, business, purchasing, public or nonpublic pupil transportation, or other school district service if the arrangement will result in cost savings for the districts or other units of local government involved;

     e.     [Based on standards adopted by the commissioner, recommend to the commissioner, who is hereby granted the authority to effectuate those recommendations, that certain school districts be required to enter arrangements with one or more other school districts or educational services commissions for the consolidation of the district's administrative services;] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.   , c.  ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

     f.     Recommend to the commissioner the elimination of laws the executive county superintendent determines to be unnecessary State education mandates, other than the categories of laws set forth in section 3 of P.L.1996, c.24 (C.52:13H-3);

     g.     Eliminate districts located in the county that are not operating schools on the effective date of  P.L.2009, c.78 (C.18A:8-43 et al.), in accordance with a plan and schedule included in the plan submitted to and approved by the commissioner;

     h.     No later than three years following the effective date of sections 42 to 58 of P.L.2007, c.63 (C.18A:7-11 et al.), recommend to the commissioner a school district consolidation plan to eliminate all districts, other than county-based districts and other than preschool or kindergarten through grade 12 districts in the county, through the establishment or enlargement of regional school districts.  After the approval of the plan by the commissioner, the executive county superintendent shall require each board of education covered by a proposal in the plan to conduct a special school election, at a time to be determined by the executive county superintendent, and submit thereat the question whether or not the executive county superintendent's proposal for the regionalization of the school district shall be adopted.  The question shall be deemed adopted if it receives a vote in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.18A:13-5.  If the question is adopted by the voters, then the regional district shall be established or enlarged in accordance with chapter 13 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes;

     i.      Promote coordination and regionalization of pupil transportation services through means such as reviewing bus routes and schedules of school districts and nonpublic schools within the county;

     j.     Review and approve, according to standards adopted by the commissioner, all employment contracts for superintendents of schools, assistant superintendents of schools, and school business administrators in school districts within the county, prior to the execution of those contracts;

     k.    Request the commissioner to order a forensic audit and to select an auditor for any school district in the county upon the determination by the executive county superintendent, according to standards adopted by the commissioner, that the accounting practices in the district necessitate such an audit;

     l.      Review all school budgets of the school districts within the county, and may, pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-5), disapprove a portion of a school district's proposed budget if he determines that the district has not implemented all potential efficiencies in the administrative operations of the district or if he determines that the budget includes excessive non-instructional expenses.  If the executive county superintendent disapproves a portion of the school district's budget pursuant to this paragraph, the school district shall deduct the disapproved amounts from the budget prior to publication of the budget, and during the budget year the school district shall not transfer funds back into those accounts;

     m.    Permit a district to submit to the voters a separate proposal or proposals for additional funds pursuant to paragraph (9) of subsection d. of section 5 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-5), only if: (1) the district provides the executive county superintendent with written documentation that the district has made efforts to enter into shared arrangements with other districts, municipalities, counties, and other units of local government for the provision of administrative, business, purchasing, public and nonpublic transportation, and other required school district services; (2) the district certifies and provides written documentation that the district participates in on-going shared arrangements; or (3) the district certifies and provides written documentation that entering such shared arrangements would not result in cost savings or would result in additional expenses for the district;

     n.     Promote cooperative purchasing within the county of textbooks and other instructional materials;

     o.    Coordinate with the Department of Education to maintain a real time Statewide and district-wide database that tracks the types and capacity of special education programs being implemented by each district and the number of students enrolled in each program to identify program availability and needs;

     p.    Coordinate with the Department of Education to maintain a Statewide and district-wide list of all special education students served in out-of-district programs and a list of all public and private entities approved to receive special education students that includes pertinent information such as audit results and tuition charges;

     q.    Serve as a referral source for districts that do not have appropriate in-district programs for special education students and provide those districts with information on placement options in other school districts;

     r.     Conduct regional planning and identification of program needs for the development of in-district special education programs;

     s.     Serve as a liaison to facilitate shared special education services within the county including, but not limited to direct services, personnel development, and technical assistance;

     t.     Work with districts to develop in-district special education programs and services including providing training in inclusive education, positive behavior supports, transition to adult life, and parent-professional collaboration;

     u.     Provide assistance to districts in budgetary planning for resource realignment and reallocation to direct special education resources into the classroom;

     v.     Report on a regular basis to the commissioner on progress in achieving the goal of increasing the number of special education students educated in appropriate programs with non-disabled students;

     w.    Render a report to the commissioner annually on or before September 1,  in the manner and form prescribed by him, of such matters relating to the schools under his jurisdiction as the commissioner shall require; [and]

     x.     Review and approve, according to standards adopted by the commissioner, all collective negotiations agreements in school districts within the county prior to the execution of those agreements.  The standards adopted by the commissioner shall include, but not be limited to, a required minimum number of work days per year for school district employees and a minimum number of hours per day of pupil contact time for teachers.

     The executive county superintendent shall not approve a collective negotiations agreement that fails to comply with the standards adopted by the commissioner or that (1)  includes salary, wages, and other forms of compensation such as costs for health insurance, that would cause the school district to exceed its tax levy growth limitation; or 2) prohibits the subcontracting of school district services; and

     y.     Perform such other duties as shall be prescribed by law.

     Any budgetary action of the executive county superintendent under this section may be appealed directly to the commissioner, who shall render a decision within 15 days of the receipt of the appeal.  If the commissioner fails to issue a decision within 15 days of the filing of an appeal, the budgetary action of the executive county superintendent shall be deemed approved. The commissioner shall by regulation establish a procedure for such appeals.

     Nothing in this section shall be construed or interpreted to contravene or modify the provisions of the "New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act," P.L.1941, c.100 (C.34:13A-1 et seq.), or to limit or restrict the scope of negotiations as provided pursuant to law, or to require an employer to enter into a subcontracting agreement which affects the employment of any employee in a collective bargaining unit represented by a majority representative during the time that an existing collective bargaining agreement with the majority representative is in effect.

     Nothing in this section is intended to interfere with a school district's ability to provide a thorough and efficient education.

(cf: P.L.2009, c.78, s.10)

 

     2.    (New section)  Notwithstanding any provision of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) or any other law to the contrary, the commissioner may adopt, immediately upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law, such rules and regulations as the commissioner deems necessary to implement the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (pending before the Legislature as this bill), which shall be effective for a period not to exceed 12 months following the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The regulations shall thereafter be amended, adopted, or readopted by the commissioner in accordance with the provisions of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.); and the commissioner shall, at a minimum, hold at least one public hearing in each of the north, central, and southern regions of the State within 60 days of the public notice of any regulations proposed by the commissioner to be amended, adopted, or readopted pursuant to that act.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill directs each executive county superintendent of schools to require collaboration among school districts in expanding the implementation of shared services among school districts within the county and outside of the county.  The bill also permits the executive county superintendent to require a district to enter into a shared services arrangement with another district, a municipality, the county, or other unit of local government within that county for the provision of administrative, business, purchasing, public or nonpublic pupil transportation, or other school district service if the arrangement will result in cost savings for the districts or other units of local government involved.

     Further, the bill requires the executive county superintendent to review and approve all collective negotiations agreements in school districts within the county prior to the execution of those contracts in accordance with standards adopted by the Commissioner of Education.  The standards adopted by the commissioner will include, but not be limited to, a required number of work days per year for school district employees and a minimum number of hours per day of pupil contact time for teachers.

     The executive county superintendent may not approve a collective negotiations agreement if it fails to comply with the standards or includes salary, wages, and other forms of compensation that would cause the school district to exceed its tax levy growth limitation or prohibits the subcontracting of school district services.