SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 1894

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MARCH 5, 2018

 

     The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee reports favorably Senate Bill No. 1894 (1R).

     This bill requires a public school, in which 70 percent or more of the students enrolled in the school on or before the last school day before October 16 of the preceding school year were eligible for free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program or the federal School Breakfast Program, to establish a “breakfast after the bell” program.  Under current law, a school with 20 percent or more of those eligible students must have a school breakfast program.

     The bill requires that, within six months of the bill’s effective date, each school district must submit a plan to the Department of Agriculture for the establishment of a “breakfast after the bell” program for all grades at each school that is subject to the provisions of the bill.  The plan is required to comply with the requirements of the federal School Breakfast Program and conform to guidelines of best practices that, pursuant to the bill, are required to be issued by the Department of Agriculture.  No later than the first full school year after submission of the plan, a school district must establish a “breakfast after the bell” program, based upon its submitted plan, in each school that is subject to the provisions of the bill.  

     A school district may apply to the Department of Agriculture to request a waiver from the provisions of the bill.  To this end, the Department of Agriculture is required to specify the criteria sufficient to award a waiver.

     The bill permits a public school to establish a paid “breakfast after the bell” program for students not eligible for free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program or the federal School Breakfast Program.

     The bill provides for an annual appropriation to the Department of Agriculture to provide the funds necessary for the State share of the “breakfast after the bell” programs established by the bill.

FISCAL IMPACT:

      The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) estimates that the bill will have several indeterminate annual fiscal impacts as the cost of the required “breakfast after the bell” programs will be incurred by affected school districts with the State serving as a conduit for federal cost reimbursements.  The OLS cannot quantify the several annual fiscal impacts because of a lack of information on the number of schools that the bill will cause to newly operate “breakfast after the bell” programs.

      The bill will increase the annual expenditures of certain school districts by an indeterminate amount.  The bill requires the establishment of “breakfast after the bell” programs in schools in which at least 70 percent of the students in the prior school year were eligible for free or reduced price meals under the National School Lunch Program or the federal School Breakfast Program.  The cost of the requirement will be mitigated to the extent that concerned schools are already operating “breakfast after the bell” programs and that affected schools that do not already operate “breakfast after the bell” programs expend resources on other programs that provide breakfast to eligible students.

      The bill will increase the annual revenue of school districts that because of the bill will newly operate “breakfast after the bell” programs by indeterminate amounts.  The increase will be in the form of federal cost reimbursements under the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which covers 100 percent of qualified expenditures of high-poverty schools to provide free meals to all students while eliminating the traditional school meal application process.

      The OLS notes that the federal government provides the cost reimbursements to the State for allocation to school districts.  Consequently, the State will experience an indeterminate annual revenue and expenditure increase equal to the amount of federal cost reimbursements for which school districts will newly qualify because of the bill.  In addition, there may be additional State expenditures in years in which the federal government will not pay for the full cost of the bill’s mandated “breakfast after the bell” programs, given that the bill appropriates State funds in the amount that is necessary to provide any State share for the programs. 

      Lastly, the bill will result in an indeterminate increase in annual State and school district administrative expenditures from implementing and administering the provisions of the bill.