Unfunded education mandates on the block?

The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee heard testimony on potential cost savings from the elimination of a host state education mandates.

The committee, which has already explored state mandates on municipalities, heard testimony from the New Jersey Principles and Supervisors Association, the Association of School Business Officials and the New Jersey School Boards Association, among other school district and employee representatives.

Among the measures heard by the committee was a brief discussion of the elimination of the voter approval of each school district’s annual budget, a costly endeavor that takes on less importance in the era of the recently enacted 2 percent cap on tax increases.

“The law already has a provision for spending beyond the cap,” said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) the chairman of the committee.  “To have that election is superfluous.  If you hit the 2 percent you should be fine.”

Other witnesses testified on elimination of mandates including the need to hold a seat for every student who lives within a certain distance of the district, advertising of the annual budget in the newspaper, increasing state requirements on curriculum, three-year-district monitoring cycles and record keeping requirements.

Acting Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks testified before the committee on charter schools, special education and district monitoring, sayingthere is a need for flexibility within the state’s education system.

McKeon said the committee would meet again a week to come up with a plan for legislation to address the committee’s findings on mandates. Unfunded education mandates on the block?