Pension Department: John Reitmeyer reports that the Christie Administration's plan to slough off pension costs on local school districts would be, well, a lot more than projected. "The study released yesterday by the New Jersey League of Municipalities and the New Jersey School Boards Association indicated that if the school districts take on the 4 percent employer contributions it would increase their costs by an estimated $372.6 million across the state. And each additional percentage point would add another $93.1 million to the tab, according to the study, which was compiled by Dr. Raphael Caprio, director of Rutgers University’s Bloustein Center for Local Government Research." More coverage from the Star-Ledger and the Press of Atlantic City, Here's the NJSBA/NJLOM report.
In a press release from the N.J. School Boards Association, Executive Director Lawrence Feinsod says, “Without a guarantee of cost neutrality for all school districts, or a new source of non-local revenue, the outcome of shifting pension and retirement health benefit costs to local school districts could be devastating to educational programs or place an additional burden on local property taxpayers."
But Thomas Healey, who coordinated the pension and health benefits Study Commission for Christie explains in this editorial that major reforms are needed to protect pensioners because the alternative -- doing nothing -- will "doom New Jersey to fiscal disaster."
Former Governor Tom Kean tells the Star-Ledger that the State Supreme Court ruling that gives Christie a bye on making legislated pension payments "gives Christie a short-term victory, but only short term. Unless he, the leadership and the unions get down to serious negotiations, the state is in trouble. We can't continue to have bond downgrades and lack of job creation in the state, and that will happen unless the unions, the leadership and the governor work something out."
Christiana: Gov. Christie gave a speech in Iowa on how to improve finances out outcomes in higher education. From NJ Spotlight: “They are good, common-senses issues around affordability and transparency,” said Darryl Greer, a senior fellow at Stockton University" but "any discussion of affordability must include discussion of the state’s dwindling financial investment in its schools. One accounting by the association calculated that per-pupil state aid has declined steadily since 2003...This is not just his fault, but we’ve been heading in the wrong direction (in terms of state investment) for 20 years,” Greer said."
Trentonia: Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats would create the office of Special Education Ombudsman “serve as a resource to provide confidential information and support to parents, students and educators regarding special education rights and services.” Also, Assembly Democrats are floating a bill that would “restrict the administration of certain statewide assessments to students with limited English proficiency.”
The Asbury Park Press: "The General Assembly on Thursday sent Republican Gov. Chris Christie a bill that calls for studying the benefits and issues involved with starting the day later in middle and high schools. The legislation requires the Department of Education to submit a report to lawmakers and the governor including a recommendation on whether the state should pursue a pilot program to test later start times at some schools."
The Press of Atlantic City looks at "a bill in the state Legislature, approved by the Assembly Education Committee on June 4, would establish a formal Seal of Biliteracy within the Department of Education to be included with student transcripts."
Go Figure: the Press of Atlantic City, "opposition to PARCC has grown amidst complaints of too much testing, [but] student participation has actually increased in other standardized tests, including the ACT, SAT and AP program. More than 84,000 students in the Class of 2014 in New Jersey took the SAT, almost 80 percent of all students."