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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
160 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608


8-10-12 Education Issues in the News

Politickernj - Special education advocates present ideas to committee

By Minhaj Hassan | August 9th, 2012 - 1:36pm

TRENTON - Two advocates made some recommendations today on how to improve special education.

Robert Titus, of Autism New Jersey, called for increasing access to programs such as behavior analysis and evidence-based teaching.

His other recommendations made before the Senate Education Committee included:

*Making charter, private and public school programs available;

*Teaching more functional skills;

*Having greater respect for cultural differences;

*Giving tools to families that would empower them to navigate disputes.

Brenda Considine of the Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform said there isn’t any meaningful data on the outcome of kids who go through special education.

“We really need a longitudinal study,” she said. “In the long term, it will help us guide decisions.

In the short term, Considine called for a moratorium on any new segregated public school programs, and making a greater effort to have kids in special education remain in their local school districts.

“It has drained resources,” she said about the practice of sending them out.

She also called for more shared services, especially in the areas of transportation and technology.

Governor's Education Funding Task Force to Hold Public Hearing August 15, 2012

Date: August 6, 2012   609-292-1126…The Governor’s Education Funding Task Force will hold a public hearing Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. in the Fort Lee High School Media Center to solicit input for its review of certain areas of the state’s school funding formula.  All members of the public are welcome to attend.

The Education Funding Task Force was established by Executive Order of the Governor in March 2012 to examine those parts of the state’s School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) funding formula that may be susceptible to fraud or subject to outside manipulation in regard to participation in the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program as a proxy for “at-risk” status and the municipal tax abatement programs.  The Executive Order may be found at http://nj.gov/infobank/circular/eocc89.pdf.

The public hearing is scheduled for:

Wednesday, August 15, 3:00pm, Fort Lee High School Media Center (2nd Floor), 3000 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ 07024 (http://goo.gl/maps/dP9W3)

Members of the public are asked to bring printed copies of their remarks to the hearing.  Note that an additional hearing will be scheduled in the southern part of the state.

Suggestions and thoughts may also be provided to the Task Force via e-mail (educationfunding@doe.state.nj.us) or postal mail (Education Transformation Task Force, c/o Department of Education, 100 Riverview Plaza, PO Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625).

NJSpotlight - Interactive Map: How Much Do Schools Spend for Supplies?...Charter schools tend to spend more for classroom staples and textbooks

By Colleen O'Dea, August 10, 2012 in Education


The percentage of regular budgetary spending on textbooks and classroom supplies per pupil in 2011-12, the most recent school year. The percentage calculation excludes transportation, equipment, pension and other costs that vary significantly among districts.

Source: NJ Department of Education


Textbooks, pencils, and paper are an integral part of education, yet the percentage of dollars spent on them in most New Jersey public schools is very small.

The 2012 Taxpayers Guide to Education Spending, released last month by the state Department of Education, shows that just 1.9 percent of the typical district's general spending per pupil paid for textbooks and classroom supplies in 2011-2012.

The average comparative cost per pupil, which includes most components of general spending, but omits items like pensions, tuition, and transportation -- which can differ widely among districts -- was $13,946.

The data show that charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate according to a state-granted charter, tend to devote a greater proportion of spending to texts and school supplies. On average, they spent 4.2 percent of their general budget, or $426 per student, on class supplies, which include calculators, microscopes, workbooks, chalk, paint, and laptops.

The biggest spenders were Hatikvah International and the Academy for Urban Leadership, both Middlesex County charter schools. They laid out more than 10 percent of their per-pupil budgets on class supplies. Both are relatively new schools, having opened in 2010-2011. Hatikvah, a dual-language English-Hebrew elementary school, budgeted $1,667 per pupil for books and other classroom items.

Vocational and elementary schools typically spent more than the state average. Regional high school districts spent the least -- just 1.7 percent of their general budgets, or $237 per student. About 30 districts spent less than 1 percent of their per-pupil budget on classroom supplies.

Spending on texts and class supplies does not necessarily correlate with district wealth. For instance, Harding, one of the state’s wealthiest communities, budgeted only 1.3 percent of general spending for class supplies or $253 per pupil. Newark, on the other hand, spent $430 per pupil, or 2.5 percent of general expenditures.

Overall, the greatest percentage of school spending pays for teacher salaries and benefits. On average, 56 percent of all general budget public education dollars, or $7,825 per pupil, went to pay the salaries and benefits of classroom teachers, aides, and substitutes.

This is the 15th year state education officials have released per-pupil spending figures. The release used to be called the Comparative Spending Guide, but the state changed the name last year when it began including state expenditures on behalf of districts.

On average, the total amount spent per pupil in New Jersey during 2010-2011 -- including pension, social security and post-retirement medical benefits, -- was $17,352. The 2011-2012 total was not reported. The other data for the past school year is the amount districts budgeted, rather than actually spent, since the information was compiled before districts closed the books on their spending for the year.

Click on a district to see how much was spent per pupil on classroom supplies; the total comparative general budget per pupil and enrollment; and how these numbers have changed over the past two years:

·         Elementary districts

·         Regional high school districts

·         Comprehensive K-12 districts

·         County vocational schools

Colleen O'Dea is an editor-at-large for NJ Spotlight.

Star Ledger - Monmouth County senator calls for more N.J. tenure reform

Published: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 2:32 PM Updated: Thursday, August 09, 2012, 4:05 pm

TRENTON — Days after Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation overhauling the state's teacher tenure laws, a state senator from Monmouth County has proposed a bill that would further remake the job protection.

State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) wants to end a practice known as last-in, first-out, which prevents veteran teachers from being laid off before their more junior colleagues when districts are faced with budget cuts. Kyrillos' bill would also allow teachers to earn merit pay and give principals greater autonomy to make staffing decisions.

"By coming together to achieve landmark tenure reforms, this legislature proved to New Jerseyans that it can indeed put students at the forefront," said Kyrillos, who is campaigning to join the United States Senate. "My new bill accomplishes full tenure overhaul, which is our best effort to both improve public education and lower property taxes."

It is too soon to know if Kyrillos' new bill will have any traction.

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who sponsored the tenure reform legislation signed into law this week, has said she also hoped to modify teachers' seniority rights, but ultimately could not generate enough support.

The New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teacher's union, is a staunch advocate of seniority. Eliminating the job protection would invite districts to fire their most experienced teaches because they are the most expensive to keep on staff, union officials have said.

Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, however, has said ending last in, first out, is critical to the Christie Administration's school reform efforts.

"If this is our one shot at reform, this it a terrible disappointment," Cerf said at a recent Senate committee hearing of the bill Christie signed on Monday. "I invite (the legislature) to return to the task of urgently needed amendments."


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608

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