Establishes procedures for the approval of the closure of a public school.
NJEA supports A-2216 (Waston Coleman, Jasey, Giblin)/S-966 (Rice, Turner) which requires that a school district board of education or a State district superintendent obtain the approval of the Commissioner of Education prior to closing a school. This bill strengthens our communities and provides the additional necessary step of garnering duly elected/appointed Board approval prior to seeking approval of the closing from the Commissioner of Education.
The closing of a school has profound effects on a community and the lives of students and parents. Our families rally around their community school as the focal point of their neighborhood and their daily lives. These schools serve so much more a purpose than just a place where children go to learn. This legislation has the support of parents and school advocates and codifies existing NJ code requiring state approval. NJEA would like to see further steps taken to ensure community support. The bill requires a district demonstrate:
- the closing is consistent with the district’s State-mandated facilities plan and will not result in overcrowding or the use of temporary space in the remaining schools;
- that the benefits of new construction outweigh rehabilitating the school slated for closure in the event it is being closed to make way for constructing a new school;
- the reassignment of students to other schools will not “produce, sustain, or contribute to the unlawful segregation of student populations on the basis of race, socio-economic status, disability or English-language proficiency” and does not impose unreasonable transportation burdens on students and families;
- the district’s school board approves the closing, including the school boards in State-operated districts.
NJEA urges you to vote "yes" on this legislation, which puts in the hands of the community the decision to close a school.