SENATE, No. 190

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH M. KYRILLOS, JR.

District 13 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Parent Empowerment and Choice Act”; enables parents to initiate reform in low performing schools through a petition process.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning the reform of low performing schools, supplementing Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes, and amending P.L.2007, c.260.

 

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

 

     1.    (New section) Sections 1 through 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be known and may be cited as the “Parent Empowerment and Choice Act.”

 

     2.    (New section) As used in this act:

     “Low performing school” means any public school that 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 exceeded 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 assessments exceeded 65% in each of the prior two school years.

     (3)   A school shall continue to be designated a low performing 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 State assessments.

 

     3.    (New section)  a.  The parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in a low performing school may initiate reform at the school through the submission of a parent petition to the board of education or,  in a school district under full State intervention, the State district superintendent.  The parent petition shall:

     (1)   include signatures representing more than 50% of the households in which the school’s students reside; and

     (2)   specify which of the three reform measures identified pursuant to section 4 of this act is requested of the board of education or the State district superintendent. 

     b.    The board of education or State district superintendent shall implement the reform measure requested through the parent petition in the next school year commencing at least 180 days after the petition’s receipt. 

     4.    (New section)  The parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in a low performing school may request that the board of education or,  in a school district under full State intervention, the State district superintendent implement any of the following reform measures through the parent petition process established pursuant to section 3 of this act:

     a.     reopening the school as a charter school under the guidance of a charter management organization or education management organization approved by the Commissioner of Education for this purpose.  Any student enrolled in the school prior to its conversion may reenroll in the charter school; 

     b.    a change in school leadership including, but not limited to, replacing the school principal and any other staff who are relevant to the school’s designation as a low performing school; or

     c.     establishment of a tuition voucher system through which a tuition voucher is provided to each parent or guardian who requests one. 

     (1)   The tuition voucher shall equal the lesser of: the actual cost per pupil of the school enrolling a voucher student; or 75% of the actual comparative cost per pupil for the prior school year at the low performing school, as reported in the Department of Education’s Comparative Spending Guide.  The tuition voucher may be used to attend a nonpublic school or public school in the State. 

     (a)   If a tuition voucher is redeemed in order to attend a public school in another school district, the district shall enroll the student and no further tuition shall be required for attendance. 

     (b)   If a tuition voucher is redeemed in order to attend a nonpublic school, the parent or guardian shall be responsible for any difference in tuition. 

     (2)   Transportation shall be provided to a voucher student attending a nonpublic school or a public school outside of his school district of residence pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.18A:39-1 applicable to nonpublic school transportation. 

     (3)   Any student who receives a voucher shall be eligible to continue to receive a voucher until graduation from the public or nonpublic school of attendance. 

 

     5.    (New section)  The board of education or State district superintendent shall notify the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education upon receipt of a parent petition and upon its final disposition of the petition. 

 

     6.    Section 3 of P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-45) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    As used in this act and P.L.1996, c.138, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning:

     "At-risk pupils" means those resident pupils from households with a household income at or below the most recent federal poverty guidelines available on October 15 of the prebudget year multiplied by 1.85;

     "Base per pupil amount" means the cost per elementary pupil of delivering the core curriculum content standards and extracurricular and cocurricular activities necessary for a thorough and efficient education;

     "Bilingual education pupil" means a resident pupil enrolled in a program of bilingual education or in an English as a second language program approved by the State Board of Education;

     "Budgeted local share" means the district's local tax levy contained in the budget certified for taxation purposes;

     "Capital outlay" means capital outlay as defined in GAAP;

     "Combination pupil" means a resident pupil who is both an at-risk pupil and a bilingual education pupil;

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Education;

     "Concentration of at-risk pupils" shall be based on prebudget year pupil data and means, for a school district or a county vocational school district, the number of at-risk pupils among those counted in resident enrollment, divided by resident enrollment;

     "County special services school district" means any entity established pursuant to article 8 of chapter 46 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes;

     "County vocational school district" means any entity established pursuant to article 3 of chapter 54 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes;

     "CPI" means the increase, expressed as a decimal, in the average annualized consumer price index for the New York City and Philadelphia areas in the fiscal year preceding the prebudget year relative to the previous fiscal year as reported by the United States Department of Labor;

     "Debt service" means payments of principal and interest upon school bonds and other obligations issued to finance the purchase or construction of school facilities, additions to school facilities, or the reconstruction, remodeling, alteration, modernization, renovation or repair of school facilities, including furnishings, equipment, architect fees, and the costs of issuance of such obligations and shall include payments of principal and interest upon bonds heretofore issued to fund or refund such obligations, and upon municipal bonds and other obligations which the commissioner approves as having been issued for such purposes;

     "District income" means the aggregate income of the residents of the taxing district or taxing districts, based upon data provided by the Division of Taxation in the New Jersey Department of the Treasury and contained on the New Jersey State Income Tax forms for the calendar year ending two years prior to the prebudget year.  The commissioner may supplement data contained on the State Income Tax forms with data available from other State or federal agencies in order to better correlate the data to that collected on the federal census.  With respect to regional districts and their constituent districts, however, the district income as described above shall be allocated among the regional and constituent districts in proportion to the number of pupils resident in each of them;

     "Equalized valuation" means the equalized valuation of the taxing district or taxing districts, as certified by the Director of the Division of Taxation on October 1, or subsequently revised by the tax court by January 15, of the prebudget year.  With respect to regional districts and their constituent districts, however, the equalized valuations as described above shall be allocated among the regional and constituent districts in proportion to the number of pupils resident in each of them. In the event that the equalized table certified by the director shall be revised by the tax court after January 15 of the prebudget year, the revised valuations shall be used in the recomputation of aid for an individual school district filing an appeal, but shall have no effect upon the calculation of the property value rate, Statewide average equalized school tax rate, or Statewide equalized total tax rate;

     "Full-day preschool" means a preschool day consisting of a six-hour comprehensive educational program in accordance with the district's kindergarten through grade 12 school calendar;

     "GAAP" means the generally accepted accounting principles established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board as prescribed by the State board pursuant to N.J.S.18A:4-14;

     "General special education services pupil" means a pupil receiving specific services pursuant to chapter 46 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes;

     "Geographic cost adjustment" means an adjustment that reflects county differences in the cost of providing educational services that are outside the control of the district;

     "Household income" means income as defined in 7 CFR ss.245.2 and 245.6 or any subsequent superseding federal law or regulation;

     "Net budget" means the sum of the district's general fund tax levy, State aid received pursuant to the provisions of this act other than preschool education aid, miscellaneous revenue estimated pursuant to GAAP, and designated general fund balance;

     "Prebudget year" means the school fiscal year preceding the year in which the school budget is implemented;

     "Nonpreschool ECPA" means the amount of early childhood program aid, excluding prior year carry-forward amounts, included in a district's 2007-2008 school year budget certified for taxes that was allocated to grades K through 3;

     "Report" means the Educational Adequacy Report issued by the commissioner pursuant to section 4 of this act;

     "Resident enrollment" means the number of pupils other than preschool pupils, post-graduate pupils, and post-secondary vocational pupils who, on the last school day prior to October 16 of the current school year, are residents of the district and are enrolled in:  (1) the public schools of the district, excluding evening schools, (2) another school district, other than a county vocational school district in the same county on a full-time basis, or a State college demonstration school or private school to which the district of residence pays tuition, [or] (3) a State facility in which they are placed by the district , or (4) another school district or nonpublic school through the use of a tuition voucher provided pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) ; or are residents of the district and are:  (1) receiving home instruction, or (2) in a shared-time vocational program and are regularly attending a school in the district and a county vocational school district  . In addition, resident enrollment shall include the number of pupils who, on the last school day prior to October 16 of the prebudget year, are residents of the district and in a State facility in which they were placed by the State.  Pupils in a shared-time vocational program shall be counted on an equated full-time basis in accordance with procedures to be established by the commissioner.  Resident enrollment shall include regardless of nonresidence, the enrolled children of teaching staff members of the school district or county vocational school district who are permitted, by contract or local district policy, to enroll their children in the educational program of the school district or county vocational school district without payment of tuition.  Disabled children between three and five years of age and receiving programs and services pursuant to N.J.S.18A:46-6 shall be included in the resident enrollment of the district;

     "School district" means any local or regional school district established pursuant to chapter 8 or chapter 13 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes;

     "State facility" means a State developmental center, a State Division of Youth and Family Services' residential center, a State residential mental health center, a Department of Children and Families Regional Day School, a State training school/secure care facility, a State juvenile community program, a juvenile detention center or a boot camp under the supervisional authority of the Juvenile Justice Commission pursuant to P.L.1995, c.284 (C.52:17B-169 et seq.), or an institution operated by or under contract with the Department of Corrections, Children and Families or Human Services, or the Juvenile Justice Commission;

     "Statewide equalized school tax rate" means the amount calculated by dividing the general fund tax levy for all school districts, which excludes county vocational school districts and county special services school districts as defined pursuant to this section, in the State for the prebudget year by the equalized valuations certified in the year prior to the prebudget year of all taxing districts in the State except taxing districts for which there are not school tax levies;

     "Tax levy growth limitation" means the permitted annual increase in the adjusted tax levy for a school district as calculated pursuant to sections 3 and 4 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.18A:7F-38 and 18A:7F-39).

(cf: P.L. 2010, c.44, s.6)

 

     7.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill empowers the parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in low performing schools to initiate reform at their schools through a petition process.  A parent petition that includes signatures representing more than 50% of the households in which the school’s students reside can be submitted to the board of education or, in a school district under full State intervention the State district superintendent, requesting one of the three reform options specified in the bill.  The board of education or State district superintendent must implement the reform measure requested through the parent petition in the next school year commencing at least 180 days after the petition’s receipt. 

     The reform measures that may be requested through a parent petition include:

     (1) reopening the school as a charter school under the guidance of a charter management organization or education management organization approved by the Commissioner of Education for this purpose; 

     (2) a change in school leadership including, but not limited to, replacing the school principal and any other staff who are relevant to the school’s designation as a low performing school; or

     (3) establishment of a tuition voucher system through which a tuition voucher is provided to each parent or guardian who requests one.

     The tuition voucher will equal the lesser of: the actual cost per pupil of the school enrolling a voucher student; or 75% of the school district’s actual comparative cost per pupil in the prior school year, as reported in the Department of Education’s Comparative Spending Guide and may be used at any nonpublic school or public school in the State. 

     Under the bill, the board of education or State district superintendent must notify the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education upon receipt of a parent petition and upon its final disposition of the petition.