Sick Leave Cap: S-2220 (Sarlo) was released from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and is now ready for full Senate consideration. The legislation, opposed by NJEA, would limit unused sick leave pay and vacation leave at $15,000 when a current contract expires. The bill was amended by NJEA in a number of areas, to deal with the timelines, fines and IRS regulations.
As part of the Governor’s toolkit, S-2220 diminishes our members’ collective bargaining rights. In addition, S-2220 will:
- Cause an exodus of school employees upon the expiration of current contracts, and
- Create a serious strain on an already overtaxed pension system.
ECS Approval of Contracts: S-2025 (Kyrillos) was heard for discussion only before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Both Barbara Keshishian and Vince Giordano provided testimony in opposition to this bill which is a part of the Governor’s “toolkit.”
The legislation calls for authorizing Executive County Superintendents (ECS) to approve a school district’s final collective negotiations agreement.
NJEA was critical of the bill which was heard on the 42nd anniversary of the passage of the PERC Act. Despite decades of labor peace, S-2025 attempts to grant the 21 individual ECS’s authority to not only review bargaining agreements but to approve or reject them based upon standards “to be developed” by the Commissioner of Education.
In addition, the ECSs appointed by the Governor would not have to consult with community leaders concerning the educational impact of their decisions.
Three other education groups, the N.J. Principal and Supervisors’ Association, the Garden State Coalition of schools, and the NJ School Boards Association opposed the bill.
Interdistrict Public School Choice: A-255 (Jasey, Voss, Moriarty) On September 9, 2010, the Governor signed into law A-355; P.L. 2010, c.65. This bill would make permanent the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program and remove the current one-choice-district-per-county limit. The bill would retain many elements of the original pilot, such as the program’s voluntary nature and other restrictions. To become a choice (receiving) district, districts would have to apply and gain approval by the Commissioner. Sending districts may limit student participation, such as enrollment restrictions up to a maximum of 10% per grade level or 15% per school. The bill takes effect immediately.
Nominations to State Board of Education: The 13-member State Board of Education is currently operating with only 10 members, of which several are “holdovers.” Under current law, members, appointed for six-year terms, can be “held over” until re-nomination or a new appointment. The Governor has made several nominations to fill the gap:
The Governor nominated Jack A. Fornaro of Oxford Township in Warren County on August 23. Mr. Fornaro previously served on the Board of Cosmetology and Hair Styling under the Department of Consumer Affairs.
On September 13, 2010, the Governor nominated J. Peter Simon and Claire Chamberlin Eckert. J. Peter Simon is the son of William Simon, former Treasury Secretary under Pres. Nixon & Ford. He is currently a banker and partner in William Simon & Sons. There are reports he was once a board member for the Alliance for School Choice, a pro-voucher organization. He is no longer listed as a board member on the group's website.
Claire Chamberlin Eckert is chief operating officer of Janet Simon, Inc, a design firm founded by J. Peter Simon's wife, Janet. Before that Eckert spent 10 years at Goldman Sachs where she focused on structuring and financing leveraged buyouts. She is a member of the NJ State Republican Committee. The Senate must review and approve all nominations as part of the Advice and Consent process.