[First Reprint]

 

SENATE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR

SENATE, No. 1872

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

  ADOPTED MAY 13, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RAYMOND J. LESNIAK

District 20 (Union)

Senator  THOMAS H. KEAN, JR.

District 21 (Essex, Morris, Somerset and Union)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Kyrillos, Oroho, Singer and A.R.Bucco

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Opportunity Scholarship Act”; establishes pilot program in Department of Treasury providing tax credits to entities contributing to scholarships for low-income children.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on January 20, 2011, with amendments.

  

 

 

 


An Act concerning educational opportunity scholarships for certain students and supplementing P.L.1945, c.162 (C.54:10A-1 et seq.) and Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    Sections 1 through 8 of P.L.    , c.   (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be known and may be cited as the “Opportunity Scholarship Act.”

 

     2.    The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     1[It is an undeniable fact that parents] Parents1 of limited 1[means] financial resources1 are 1often1 less able to provide 1access to quality1 educational options for their children 1[, even in those instances in which the public schools are failing their children,]1 and 1are therefore unable1 to select the learning environment that might best meet the needs of their children 1, even in those instances in which the public schools are failing to educate their children1 ;

     b.    1[The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey in a 2009 decision, Crawford v. Davy, ruled that children enrolled in schools in which the majority of students failed at least one subject area of the State assessments in multiple consecutive years currently have no entitlement to better educational opportunities in another school district or nonpublic school;

     c.]1 Consequently, it is critical to provide a mechanism that will provide 1[students] children of families that have limited financial resources1 enrolled in 1[these] chronically1 failing schools the opportunity to 1[receive a quality education] enroll in different schools chosen by their parents so as to expand the educational opportunities available to these children1 ;

     1[d.] c.1 The United States Supreme Court in its 2002 decision, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, found that a program providing tuition aid in the form of scholarships for some students to attend public or nonpublic schools of a parent’s choosing did not violate the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution; and

     1[e. In light of New Jersey’s constitutional commitment to ensuring educational justice for every child, regardless of the relative wealth or poverty of a child’s parents,] d. Accordingly,1 it is appropriate that the State initiate a tax credit scholarship program on a pilot basis to 1encourage corporations to make voluntary contributions to nonprofit scholarship organizations, as well as to1 assess 1[its] the1 impact 1of such a program1 on the educational opportunity and achievement of children whose current education options are limited to a chronically failing school.

 

     3.    As used in sections 1 through 8 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     “Chronically failing school” means any 1public1 school 1, other than a charter school,1 that 1is located in a targeted district and1 meets the criteria of paragraph (1) or paragraph (2):

     (1)   among all students in that school to whom a State assessment was administered, the percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range in both the language arts and mathematics subject areas of the State assessments 1[exceeded] was equal to or greater than1 40% in each of the prior two school years; or

     (2)   among all students in that school to whom a State assessment was administered, the percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range in either the language arts or mathematics subject area of the State assessment 1[exceeded] was equal to or greater than1 65% in each of the prior two school years.

     (3)   A school shall continue to be designated a chronically failing school until such time that the percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range in both the language arts and mathematics subject areas of the State assessments is less than or equal to the Statewide percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range on the corresponding Statewide assessments.

     "Eligible school" means an 1[in-district or]1 out-of-district public school or an in-district or out-of-district nonpublic school located in this State offering a program of instruction for kindergarten through 12th grade, or any combination of those grades that:

     (1) is open to 1[all] enroll1 students who are eligible to participate in the pilot program established pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) on a space-available basis 1as determined by the eligible school1 and does not discriminate in its admission policies or practices for scholarship applicants enrolled in a public school on the date of the scholarship application on the basis of intellectual or athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a 1[handicapped]1 person 1with disabilities1, proficiency in the English language, or any other basis that would be illegal if used by a school district; however nothing shall prohibit a school from qualifying as an eligible school solely because the school limits admission to a particular grade level 1, single gender,1 or to areas of concentration at the school, such as mathematics, science, or the arts;

     (2)   in the case of a nonpublic school, provides 1[enrollment preference] first priority1 for 1[new admissions] enrollment in any space made available by the school for scholarship students at that school1 to students who 1[are enrolled in a chronically failing school and are eligible to]1 participate in the pilot program established pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); 1[and]1

     (3)   1in the case of a public school, has been designated by the board of education as a school that will accept students who participate in the pilot program established pursuant to P.L.    ,  c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

     (4) in the case of a nonpublic school, has obtained approval from the Commissioner of Education pursuant to section 12 of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to enroll students who participate in the pilot program established pursuant to that act; and

     (5)1 is in full compliance with all federal, State, and local laws.

     "Household income" means income as defined for the purposes of determining eligibility for a free or reduced price lunch pursuant to the State School Lunch Program.

     "Low-income child" means a child from a household with an income that does not exceed 2.50 times the official federal poverty level based on family size, established and adjusted under Section 673(2) of Subtitle B, the "Community Services Block Grant Act," Pub. L.97-35 (42 U.S.C. s.9902(2)), for the school year preceding the school year for which an educational scholarship is to be distributed.

     "Scholarship organization" means an organization that has been determined by the federal Internal Revenue Service to be qualified as a tax-exempt organization pursuant to paragraph (3) of subsection (c) of section 501 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. s.501) and that:

     (1)   requires that any tax-creditable contributions accepted by it be designated by the contributor at the time of contribution as a contribution pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

     (2)   distributes not less than 95% of the tax-creditable contributions that it accepts pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) as educational scholarships to low-income students;

     (3)   distributes individual scholarships 1to the parents or guardians of scholarship students1 that:

            (a) in the case of a scholarship student enrolled in grades kindergarten through 8, are equal to the lesser of:

            (i) the actual cost per pupil of the eligible school enrolling a scholarship student, as determined by the Commissioner of Education; or

            (ii) the greater of 1[$6,000] $8,0001 or 40% of the prior school year’s actual average comparative cost per pupil, as reported in the Department of Education’s Comparative Spending Guide, among all school districts in which a chronically failing school is located; and

            (b) in the case of a scholarship student enrolled in grades 9 through 12, are equal to the lesser of:

            (i) the actual cost per pupil of the eligible school enrolling a scholarship student, as determined by the Commissioner of Education; or

            (ii) the greater of 1[$9,000] $11,0001 or 59% of the prior school year’s actual average comparative cost per pupil, as reported in the Department of Education’s Comparative Spending Guide, among all school districts in which a chronically failing school is located;

     (4)   ensures that a child receives in any school year no more than one scholarship pursuant to the provisions of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); and

     (5)   has complied with such other requirements as the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury may require.

     1 “Targeted district” means Asbury Park City School District, Camden City School District, East Orange City School District, Elizabeth City School District, Jersey City School District, Lakewood City School District, Newark City School District, City of Orange School District, Passaic City School District, Paterson City School District, Perth Amboy City School District, Plainfield City School District, and Trenton City School District.1         

 

     4.    a.  1[Beginning in the first State fiscal year following the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)] By April 1, 20111 , the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury shall establish a five-year pilot program to provide tax credits to corporations which contribute funding to the lead scholarship organization designated pursuant to subsection b. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to provide educational scholarships 1beginning in the 2011-2012 school year1 to help low-income children who, except as otherwise provided pursuant to paragraph 1[(2)] (3)1 or paragraph 1[(3)] (4)1 of subsection a. of section 6 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), are enrolled in a chronically failing school, pay tuition at an eligible school 1that has been selected by the parent or guardian of the scholarship student1.

     b.    Subject to the restrictions established pursuant to subsection d. of this section, a taxpayer, upon application to the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury, shall be allowed a credit against the tax imposed pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1945, c.162 (C.54:10A-5) for a privilege period, in an amount equal to 100% of the contributions made by the taxpayer to the lead scholarship organization designated pursuant to subsection b. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) during the privilege period; provided that the taxpayer shall designate at the time the contribution is made that the contribution is made pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  1Any contribution made pursuant to this section after April 1, 2011 and prior to June 30, 2011 shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1945, c.162 (C.54:10A-5) for the State fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011.1

     c.     The order of priority of the credit allowed under P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and any other credits allowed by law shall be as prescribed by the director. The amount of the credit applied under P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) against the tax imposed pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1945, c.162 (C.54:10A-5) for a privilege period shall not reduce the tax liability to an amount less than the statutory minimum provided in subsection (e) of section 5 of P.L.1945, c.162 (C.54:10A-5).  An unused amount of credit shall expire at the end of the privilege period.

     d.    In aggregate, the total tax contribution of all participating corporations shall not exceed 1[$24,000,000 in the first State fiscal year, $48,000,000 in the second State fiscal year, $72,000,000 in the third State fiscal year, $96,000,000 in the fourth State fiscal year, and $120,000,000 in the fifth State fiscal year] ­an amount to be determined by the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury to be sufficient to provide funding for the maximum number of scholarships allowed pursuant to section 6 of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and associated administrative costs1.  If the sum of the amount of tax credits authorized pursuant to this section in a State fiscal year exceeds the aggregate annual limits established 1by the director1 pursuant to this subsection, tax credits shall be allowed in the order in which contributions are made until the limit is reached.

 

     5.    a.  There is hereby established the Opportunity Scholarship Board.  The board shall consist of three public members, one appointed by the Governor, one appointed by the President of the Senate, and one appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly.  Each of the members shall be a representative of an entity subject to the tax imposed pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1945, c.162 (C.54:10A-5) or an employee of such entity.

     b.    The board shall select one scholarship organization in each of the north, central, and southern regions of the State to administer the scholarship funds made available through contributions received pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill). The board shall designate one of the scholarship organizations to be the lead scholarship organization.

     c.     The board shall publicize the pilot program to the parents 1and guardians1 of children who are enrolled in a chronically failing school.

     d.    The board shall commission an independent study of the pilot program.  The study shall be conducted by an individual or entity primarily identified with expertise in the field of urban education.  The individual or entity shall design a comprehensive study of the pilot program which shall include, but not be limited to, consideration of the following:

     (1)   the academic achievement of scholarship recipients based on test results and other educational indicators;

     (2)   the impact of the pilot program on achieving savings for State taxpayers;

     (3)   the impact of the program on student enrollment patterns; and

     (4)   parental satisfaction with the pilot program.

     The board may raise funds privately for the purpose of commissioning the study and for the cost of publicizing the pilot program.

     e.     On or before January 1 of the fifth school year of the pilot program, the board shall submit a report to the Governor, and to the Legislature pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), on the implementation and results of the pilot program.  The report shall be based on the annual reports submitted by the scholarship organizations pursuant to subsection c. of section 6 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and the independent study conducted pursuant to subsection d. of this section.  The report shall include a recommendation on whether the program should be reauthorized on a permanent basis.

 

     6.    a. (1) 1The lead scholarship organization shall ensure that the total number of scholarships awarded shall not exceed 3,900 in the first school year, 7,800 in the second school year, 15,000 in the third school year, 25,000 in the fourth school year, and 40,000 in the fifth school year.

     (2)1 The lead scholarship organization shall allocate funds made available through contributions provided pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to the selected scholarship organizations 1in direct proportion to the number of scholarships available to each scholarship organization pursuant to this paragraph1.  The total 1[funds] number of scholarships1 available 1[for scholarships]1 for each school year shall be allocated to the scholarship organization selected in each region 1[as follows] in a number equal to the sum of1 :

     1(a)1 the total enrollment, excluding preschool students, of all chronically failing schools in the region divided by the total enrollment, excluding preschool students, of all chronically failing schools Statewide, 1[and the result shall be]1 multiplied by 175% of1 the 1[total funds] maximum number of scholarships1 available for that school year 1; and

     (b) the total enrollment, excluding preschool students, of all nonpublic schools in the region located in a district in which a chronically failing school is located divided by the total enrollment, excluding preschool students, of all nonpublic schools Statewide located in a district in which a chronically failing school is located, multiplied by 25% of the maximum number of scholarships available for  that school year.

     For the purposes of this paragraph, a nonpublic school shall not include an approved private school for students with disabilities1 .

     1[(2)] (3)1 No more than 25% of a scholarship organization’s scholarship allocation in any school year shall be used to provide scholarships to low-income students who reside in 1[the State] a district in which a chronically failing school is located1 and are enrolled in nonpublic schools on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); except that if by August 1 of any school year, scholarship funds available for the scholarship organization remain unallocated, then the funds may be used to provide additional scholarships for that school year to low-income students enrolled in nonpublic schools on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     1[(3)] (4)1 If by August 15 of any school year, scholarship funds available for the scholarship organization remain unallocated, then the unallocated funds shall be used to provide scholarships for that school year to low-income children residing in other regions. Priority shall be given to students in the following order:

     (a)   low-income children attending a chronically failing school;

     (b)   low-income children residing in a district in which a chronically failing school is located; and

     (c)   notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1[(2)] (3)1 of this subsection, low-income children enrolled in a nonpublic school on the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     The Opportunity Scholarship Board established pursuant to subsection 1[b.] a.1 of section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall determine the apportionment of unallocated funds to the other regions.

     b.    A scholarship organization selected by the board pursuant to subsection b. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall require that an eligible school which admits a child receiving an educational scholarship under the pilot program:

     (1)   accepts the scholarship as payment in full for a child's tuition and any other costs of attendance payable to the school;

     (2)   ensures that a child enrolled in an eligible school who received a scholarship under the program in the prior school year receives a scholarship in each school year of enrollment under the program provided that the child remains eligible; except that any child who received a scholarship under the program in the prior school year who is no longer considered a low-income child shall continue to remain eligible to receive a scholarship under the program until the child completes the eighth grade or the twelfth grade, whichever occurs first, provided that the child continues to meet all other eligibility requirements;

     (3)   in the event that more children apply for admission under the pilot program than there are openings at the eligible school, determines through a lottery which children are selected for admission, except that preference for enrollment may be given to siblings of students who are enrolled in the eligible school; 1[and]1

     (4) if the eligible school is a nonpublic school 1[,]:

     (a)1 administers the appropriate grade level State assessment to scholarship students 1and makes the results publicly available, except that the school shall not make any results publicly available that may lead to the disclosure of results for an individual student1 . The Department of Education shall provide the necessary material to the nonpublic school at no cost 1;

     (b) obtains written acknowledgment from the parent or guardian that a nonpublic school may not provide the same level of special education services that are provided in a public school and acceptance of the scholarship and enrollment in the nonpublic school has the same effect as a parental refusal to consent to services pursuant to section 614 of the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” Pub.L. 108-446 (20 U.S.C. s.1414);

     (c) upon admitting a scholarship student, agrees to continue enrolling that student for at least two full school years unless the student commits an act that threatens the health or safety of other students, faculty, or staff at the school.  Thereafter, the scholarship student shall be subject to the disciplinary and expulsion policy that is applicable to all students;

     (d) if the nonpublic school is a sectarian school, allows a scholarship student to opt out of any classes that provide religious instruction or any religious activities; and

     (5) shall not use revenue received through the enrollment of scholarship students for construction or capital improvement projects1.

     c.     A selected scholarship organization shall:

     (1)   manage the scholarship application process for the school district in which students who are eligible to participate in the scholarship program reside;

     (2)   review and verify the income and residence of a scholarship applicant;

     (3)   compile an inventory of vacancies in eligible schools available for potential scholarship recipients 1based on information provided by the eligible schools1;

     (4)   conduct necessary student selection lotteries in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (3) of subsection b. of this section;

     (5)   in the event that the number of eligible students 1in a region1 applying for a scholarship exceeds the number of available scholarships 1in the region1 , conduct 1[lotteries] a lottery in the region1 to determine which students will receive a scholarship;

     (6)   monitor the enrollment of scholarship students in eligible schools 1[and allocate scholarship funds to those schools]1 ; 1[and,]1

     (7)   1distribute scholarship funds to the parents or guardians of scholarship students; and

     (8)1 prepare a report to be submitted to the State Treasurer 1and the Commissioner of Education1 by December 1 of each year that includes, but is not limited to, the following information for the prior school year:  the amount of scholarship funds received by the scholarship organization; the administrative costs of the scholarship organization; 1the total number of scholarships awarded, by grade level; the total number of scholarship recipients who previously attended a public school, by school district;1 the amount of scholarship funds 1[dispersed] disbursed1 on behalf of scholarship recipients to eligible schools that are public schools, and a listing of those eligible schools; the amount of scholarship funds 1[dispersed] disbursed1 on behalf of scholarship recipients to eligible schools that are nonpublic schools, and a listing of those eligible schools; and the number of scholarship applications for which no scholarship funds were available.

     The board shall make the annual report available to the parents or guardians of scholarship recipients and to members of the public.  1Upon review of the report, the commissioner shall have the authority to disallow any excessive administrative expenditures made by the scholarship organization and reduce the amount that the scholarship organization may retain for administrative expenses in the subsequent school year.1

 

     7.    The Department of Education shall annually provide a list of all chronically failing schools to the Opportunity Scholarship Board established pursuant to subsection a. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The department shall coordinate with the board to determine the earliest feasible time that the list can be developed after the administration of the State assessments.

 

     8.    The Director of the Division of Taxation shall adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to implement the provisions of sections 1 through 7 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     9.    1a.1 Notwithstanding any provision of 1section 5 or1 subsection a. of section 16 of P.L.2007, c.260 (1C.18A:7F-47 and1 C:18A:7F-58) or any other section of law to the contrary, for each scholarship student who was enrolled in a public school of the district at the time that the student first received an educational scholarship pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), 1and for each year thereafter that the student receives a scholarship,1the amount of State school aid paid to the district pursuant to the provisions of P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-43 et al.) shall be reduced by an amount equal to the district’s equalization aid, security categorical aid, special education categorical aid, 1[transportation aid,]1 and adjustment aid divided by the district’s resident enrollment.

     1b.   Each school district for which a State school aid reduction was made pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall receive an amount of State school aid equal to the Statewide reduction in State school aid made pursuant to that subsection minus the sum of the total tax credit authorized for the State fiscal year pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and any costs incurred due to the assessments required pursuant to sections 6 and 13 of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), multiplied by the ratio obtained by dividing the amount of State school aid withheld from the district pursuant to subsection a. of this section by the total amount of State school aid withheld from all districts pursuant to that subsection.1

 

     1[10. There is hereby established in the Department of Education a fund entitled the “Educational Innovation Fund.”  The fund shall be credited with the amount of any per pupil State school aid reduction made pursuant to section 9 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) that is in excess of the applicable educational scholarship awarded pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to a scholarship student who was enrolled in a public school of the district at the time that the student first received a scholarship.  All interest or other income or earnings derived from the investment or reinvestment of moneys in the fund shall be credited to the fund. The moneys in the fund are specifically dedicated to fund the Educational Innovation Pilot Program established pursuant to section 11 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).]1

 

     1[11. a.] 10.1 As used in 1[this section, “chronically] sections 9 through 11 of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     Chronically1  failing school” means any 1public1 school 1, other than a charter school,1 that 1is located in a targeted district and1 meets the criteria of paragraph (1) or paragraph (2) of this subsection:

     (1)   among all students in that school to whom a State assessment was administered, the percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range in both the language arts and mathematics subject areas of the State assessments 1[exceeded] was equal to or greater than1 40% in each of the prior two school years; or

     (2)   among all students in that school to whom a State assessment was administered, the percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range in either the language arts or mathematics subject area of the State assessment 1[exceeded] was equal to or greater than1 65% in each of the prior two school years.

     (3)   A school shall continue to be designated a chronically failing school until such time that the percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range in both the language arts and mathematics subject areas of the State assessments is less than or equal to the Statewide percent of students scoring in the partially proficient range on the corresponding Statewide assessments.

     1[b. The Commissioner of Education shall establish a five-year Educational Innovation Pilot Program.  The program shall award competitive grants to chronically failing schools to finance the adoption of innovative educational practices with the objective of improving student performance.  The grants shall be funded by moneys on deposit in the Educational Innovation Fund established pursuant to section 10 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     c.     The commissioner shall develop an application process to select the chronically failing schools which will receive an innovation grant.  The application shall be prepared and submitted by the superintendent of the district in which the chronically failing school is located.  The application shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

     (1)   a description of the innovative programs or practices which would be implemented in the chronically failing schools;

     (2)   a budget proposal for the use of any grant award; and

     (3)   a list of program objectives and a description of how the district will assess the program’s implementation and outcomes.

     d.    A superintendent may submit a grant application that does not include all chronically failing schools in the district.]

      “Targeted district” means Asbury Park City School District, Camden City School District, East Orange City School District, Elizabeth City School District, Jersey City School District, Lakewood City School District, Newark City School District, City of Orange School District, Passaic City School District, Paterson City School District, Perth Amboy City School District, Plainfield City School District, and Trenton City School District.1         

 

     111. A school district in which a chronically failing school is located shall provide transportation services to scholarship students attending a nonpublic school or a public school outside the school district of residence pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.18A:39-1 applicable to nonpublic school pupil transportation.1

 

     112. a. The Commissioner of Education shall develop a process for approving a nonpublic school that wants to be classified as an eligible school to enroll a scholarship student pursuant to the provisions of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The commissioner shall grant approval to a nonpublic school that meets any one of the following criteria:

     (1) the school has been in operation for at least five years, has an end-of-year financial statement for each of the previous five years, and, in the two years prior to the school year for which approval is sought, has undergone an independent financial audit conducted by a certified public accountant that concluded that the school is financially viable;

     (2) the school was founded within the prior 12 months by an operator of an existing school that meets the criteria of paragraph (1) of this subsection; or

     (3)  the school is a current member of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools.

     b. The commissioner may grant approval to a school that does not meet the requirements of subsection a. of this section if the nonpublic school submits an application containing the following information:

     (1) a statement of the school’s objectives and a written strategy for meeting those objectives;

     (2) information that demonstrates the school’s financial viability;

     (3) a list of faculty that includes information regarding each individual’s educational attainment and relevant work experience;

     (4) a statement regarding the adequacy of the school’s facilities and equipment;

     (5) documentation that the school has been determined by the federal Internal Revenue Service to be qualified as a tax-exempt organization pursuant to paragraph (3) of subsection (c) of section 501 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. s.501); and

     (6) a list of current board members, their affiliations, and terms of service.

     c. As a condition of receiving approval to enroll a scholarship student, a nonpublic school shall require a criminal history record check of final candidates for employment in accordance with the procedures established pursuant to P.L.1989, c.229 (C.18A:6-4.13 et seq.).

     d. A nonpublic school shall submit the results of the most recent assessment administered by the nonpublic school to its students to the Commissioner of Education.  The commissioner shall establish performance criteria that must be met by the nonpublic school students in order for the school to be approved to enroll a scholarship student.  The commissioner shall not approve a nonpublic school to receive a scholarship student if the nonpublic school does not administer an assessment to its students.1

 

     113. The commissioner shall select grade-level appropriate assessments to be administered to all students receiving a scholarship pursuant to the provisions of P.L.    , c.   (C. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) in the first school year in which the student receives a scholarship.  The assessments that are selected shall be capable of providing technically accurate measures of a student’s academic growth over time.  The assessments shall be administered to students twice during the school year.  The first administration shall occur within the first 30 school days of the school year, and the second administration shall occur within the last 30 school days of the school year.  These requirements shall be in addition to the requirement for the administration of the appropriate grade level State assessment.1

 

     1[12.] 14.1 The State Board of Education shall adopt regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedures Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the provisions of sections 9 through 1[11] 131 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     1[13.] 15.1  This act shall take effect immediately.