Proposal to lengthen school days advances

TRENTON – Senate lawmakers released a bill from committee that would lengthen school days in some districts.

The bill, S2087, would set up a pilot program over three years to study the effects of a longer school day on academic performance. The proposal would allow up to 25 districts to participate in the program.

A spokesperson from the New Jersey Education Association spoke in favor of the legislation, but said they have several key concerns with the proposal – namely the unknown cost the program could incur for school districts. The NJEA said it will work with the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, (D-29), in the coming weeks.

Ruiz stated during the Senate Education Committee hearing that she intends to work with school officials to make amendments to the bill prior to it going to the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Michael Doherty (R-23) opposed the proposal, citing the increased costs.

A district that wants to participate would apply to the Department of Education. As an incentive, tax credits would be offered to corporations that contribute funding to support the pilot effort’s costs.

The total tax credits would be capped at $24 million in year one, $48 million in year two, and $72 million in year three.

In a revenue estimate that accompanies the Assembly version – A1391 – that was introduced in January,  the Executive branch and the Office of Legislative Services agree that the state coffers would suffer a loss under this bill, but disagree on exactly how severely it would kick in and when.

The administration estimates the following fiscal impact on state revenues: year 1, nothing; year 2, $18 million; year 3, $42 million; year 4, $66 million; and year 5, $18 million.

OLS estimates that the state revenues would be affected more quickly: year 1, $24 million; year 2, $48 million; and year 3, $72 million.

The administration’s analysis assumes that the corporate business tax will be reduced by 75 percent of the total amount of tax credits that are claimed, and that assumption is based on anticipated delays due to filing requirements.

S2123/A718, would require the Department of Education to biannually distribute a letter to school districts reminding the districts of requirements to enroll resident students regardless of their immigration status.

Doherty opposed the proposal, saying it would only add “additional red tape.”

Proposal to lengthen school days advances