Senate Education Comm. releases bills concerning recess, STEM pilot, more

TRENTON – The Senate Education Committee released bills today involving recess periods, binding arbitration. STEM programs, and more.

S1501: This bill requires that a public school district must provide a daily recess period of at least 20 minutes for students in grades kindergarten through 5. 

The bill also provides that the recess period may not be scheduled immediately before or after the student’s physical education class and that no student can be denied recess for any reason.

Sponsor Sen. Shirley Turner said the bill is in part a reaction to the problem of obesity among young people who spend too much time playing video games and watching TV.

Sen. Michael Doherty said in support that Americans need to wake up to the reality of the problem of obesity and products such as high-fructose corn syrup and certain pharmaceutical products. Recess, he said, provides much-needed exercise for children.

It passed unanimously.

S2163: This bill provides to non-teaching employees the right to submit disputes to binding arbitration. The bill places the burden of proof in the arbitration on the employer.

It passed 3-1-1 with Sen. Diane Allen abstaining and Sen. Michael Doherty voting no.

S2257/A893: This provides specific statutory authorization for an educational facilities manager and also provides that the person must apply for renewal of his authorization every three years.

It was released unanimously.

S2410: This bill would validate the school bond authorization proceedings taken by the Board of Education of the Monmouth Regional High School District, Monmouth County, and approved by the voters at the school election held Nov. 6, 2012.

It was released.

S2482/A3410: This bill requires that a school district provide the county vocational school district with the pupil directory information for all students enrolled in grades six through 12 upon receiving such a request from the county vocational school district. 

The information to be provided would include the pupil’s name and address.  The pupil’s parent would have the option of not having the pupil’s information released for this purpose, and the school district would be responsible for notifying parents of that option.

It was released unanimously.

S2562/A2015: This bill establishes the four-year “New Jersey Innovation Inspiration School Grant Pilot Program” to encourage student access and interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in order to advance United States competitiveness.

Sen. Michael Doherty raised a question after seeing that Assembly Republicans opposed the measure over concerns money would be siphoned from suburban districts.

Sponsor Sen. Diane Allen said the pilot is geared toward different districts, including underperforming ones, and that the pilot effort could end up in suburban districts.

The pilot as structured would be in six districts, two in the north, two in the south, and two in the central portion of the state, targeting low-performing schools. The schools have not been chosen yet.

Sen. Shirley Turner raised concerns that some districts that could most need this program wouldn’t be able to afford the match that is required.

It was released unanimously. Senate Education Comm. releases bills concerning recess, STEM pilot, more