SENATE, No. 2843

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED JULY 23, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† RICHARD J. CODEY

District 27 (Essex and Morris)

Senator† STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Greenstein and Ruiz

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Establishes competitive grant program for school districts to assist in hiring of school psychologists; appropriates $1 million.

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act establishing a school psychologist grant program, supplementing chapter 40 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes, and making an appropriation.

 

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

 

†††† 1.††† a.† There is established in the Department of Education a grant program to assist school districts in the hiring of school psychologists.† The purposes of the grant program shall be to: †address shortages of student support services in New Jersey schools; ensure that mental health services are available at school for students who may otherwise lack access to such services; †improve student achievement; and improve school climate and school safety.

†††† b.††† Grants under the program shall be awarded to school districts on a competitive basis.† School districts that receive a grant under the program shall use the funds for the hiring of school psychologists to provide support services for students enrolled in the schools of the district.

†††† c.†††† To be eligible for consideration of a grant award, a school district shall submit an application to the Commissioner of Education, in accordance with application procedures and requirements prescribed by the commissioner.† A grant application shall include information regarding the following:

†††† (1)†† the school districtís unmet need for student support services;

†††† (2)†† the number of school psychologists currently employed by the district and their caseloads;

†††† (3)†† the existing ratio of school psychologists to students enrolled in the district;

†††† (4)†† the schools and student populations that will be served by the hiring of additional school psychologists with grant funds;

†††† (5)†† the school districtís attendance rates and graduation rates;

†††† (6)†† the percentage of students enrolled in the district who are eligible for the federal free or reduced price lunch programs; and

†††† (7)†† any other information specified by the commissioner.

†††† d.††† The commissioner shall establish selection criteria for the awarding of grant funds under the program, including consideration of the information listed in subsection c. of this section.† Grants shall be awarded based upon review of the applications and subject to the availability of funds.† The commissioner shall establish the amount for each grant that is approved.

†††† e.†††† Within one year after receiving a grant award under the program, a school district shall submit a report to the commissioner containing information on the districtís use of the grant funds.† The report shall include, at a minimum, information on the number of school psychologists hired using grant funds, increases or improvements in the provision of student support services as a result of the grant, and any notable changes in school climate, attendance rates, student achievement, school discipline, or other measures since receiving the grant.

 

†††† 2.††† The commissioner 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), no later than two years after the establishment of the school psychologist grant program.† The report shall include, but need not be limited to, information on the number of grant applicants, the number and amounts of the grant awards, information provided by school districts under subsection e. of section 1 of this act, and any recommendations concerning the continuation or expansion of the grant program.†

 

†††† 3.††† There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Education the sum of $1,000,000 for the purpose of effectuating the provisions of this act.† Any appropriations that are not expended at the end of the fiscal year shall be available to be used for the same purpose in subsequent fiscal years.

†††† 4.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill establishes a $1 million grant program in the Department of Education to assist school districts in the hiring of school psychologists.† The purposes of the grant program are to address shortages of student support services in New Jersey schools, ensure that mental health services are available at school for students who may otherwise lack access to such services,† improve student achievement, and improve school climate and school safety.

†††† Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education will award grants to school districts on a competitive basis. School districts that wish to apply for the grant program will submit an application in accordance with procedures and requirements prescribed by the commissioner.† Grant applications must include information on the following: (1) the school districtís unmet need for student support services; (2) the number of school psychologists currently employed by the district and their caseloads; (3) the existing ratio of school psychologists to students enrolled in the district; (4) the schools and student populations that will be served by the hiring of additional school psychologists with grant funds; (5) the school districtís attendance rates and graduation rates; (6) the percentage of students enrolled in the district who are eligible for the federal free or reduced price lunch programs; and (7) any other information specified by the commissioner.† The commissioner will establish selection criteria for the awarding of grants, including consideration of the information contained in the applications, and will determine the amount for each grant that is approved.

†††† The bill requires each school district that receives a grant under the program to submit a report to the commissioner within one year after receiving the grant.† The report will contain information on the school districtís use of the grant funds, including information on the number of school psychologists hired, increases or improvements in the provision of student support services as a result of the grant, and any notable changes in school climate, attendance rates, student achievement, school discipline, or other measures since receiving the grant.

†††† The bill also requires the commissioner to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature no later than two years after the establishment of the grant program.† The report will include information on the number of grant applicants, the number and amounts of the grant awards, information provided by school districts in their reports to the commissioner regarding the use of grant funds, and any recommendations concerning the continuation or expansion of the grant program.†

†††† The bill appropriates the sum of $1 million from the General Fund to the Department of Education for purposes of the grant program established under the bill.