Assemblyman JOHN J. BURZICHELLI
District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)
Assemblyman ADAM J. TALIAFERRO
District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)
Provides for elimination of newly formed non-operating school districts; establishes procedures for eliminating deficit that existed prior to merger; authorizes renting of school building for 10 years.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning certain school districts and the rental of school buildings, and amending P.L.2009, c.78 and N.J.S.18A:20-4.1.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 1 of P.L.2009, c.78 (C.18A:8-43) is amended to read as follows:
1. As used in this act:
"Non-operating district" means a school district that is not operating schools [on the effective date of P.L.2009, c.78 (C.18A:8-43 et al.)] .
(cf: P.L.2009, c.78, s.1)
2. Section 2 of P.L.2009, c.78 (C.18A:8-44) is amended to read as follows:
2. a. Except as otherwise provided in subsection b. of this section, the executive county superintendent of schools [shall] may eliminate any non-operating district and merge that district with the district with which it participates in a sending-receiving relationship.
b. If a non-operating district is in a sending-receiving relationship with more than one district or is in a sending-receiving relationship with a district in need of improvement pursuant to the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001," Pub.L.107-110, then the executive county superintendent shall determine with which district the non-operating district shall be merged. The determination shall be based on the district that is able to accommodate the merger with the least disruption to its finances and educational operations. In making the determination the executive county superintendent shall examine, but need not be limited to, the following factors: current sending-receiving relationships; the quality and effectiveness of educational programming and district operations; proximity of school districts; transportation costs; school building capacity; and special education needs.
(cf: P.L.2009, c.78, s.2)
3. Section 3 of P.L.2009, c.78 (C.18A:8-45) is amended to read as follows:
3. a. The annual or special appropriations for a new district established pursuant to section 2 of this act, excluding the amounts to be raised for interest upon and the redemption of bonds payable by the district, shall be apportioned among the constituent districts of the new district in the first year of the merger in such manner as the commissioner determines to be the least fiscally disruptive, notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.18A:7F-38). Thereafter the apportionment methodology shall be determined pursuant to chapter 13 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes; however, if necessary, the commissioner may allow a five-year phase-in of the apportionment methodology.
The amount to be raised for interest upon and the redemption of bonds payable by the district for bonds issued prior to and after the effective date of this act, shall be apportioned among the constituent districts of the new district in such manner as the commissioner determines to be the least fiscally disruptive. The commissioner may allow a five-year phase-in of the apportionment methodology, if necessary.
b. In the event that a non-operating school district, or the school district with which it will be merged, has a deficit in its general fund at the time of the merger, the commissioner shall require that the school district incurring the deficit raise a supplemental general fund tax levy sufficient to eliminate the deficit. Any such supplemental general fund tax levy shall be in addition to any increase in the new district’s adjusted tax levy calculated pursuant to section 3 of P.L.2007, c.62 (C.18A:7F-38). The commissioner shall determine if the supplemental general fund tax levy will affect only the current year or if it will result in a permanent increase in the levy.
(cf: P.L.2009, c.78, s.3)
4. N.J.S.18A:20-4.1 is amended to read as follows:
The board of education of any Type II school district may without authority first obtained from the voters of the district:
(a) Rent, on a year-to-year basis, or for a term not to exceed  10 years, in case of emergency, buildings to use for school purposes; and
(b) Take an option not to exceed 1 year in duration, at a cost not to exceed the fair market value of such option, on the purchase of any land which the board could lawfully purchase after securing the consent of the legal voters to the purchase thereof, but such option may be exercised by the board only after authority to purchase the property covered by such option has been given at an annual or special school election.
(cf: P.L.1971, c.300, s.1)
5. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill provides for the elimination of non-operating school districts that were established after the effective date of P.L.2009, c.78. Under that law, the executive county superintendents of schools were required to develop a plan for eliminating the non-operating school districts in their counties. To date, 14 such school districts have been eliminated; however, additional districts have subsequently become non-operating school districts.
This bill makes the elimination of a non-operating school district discretionary, and also specifies that if, at the time of a required merger, a school district has a deficit in its general fund, then the Commissioner of Education will require that the district that incurred the deficit raise a supplemental general fund tax levy to eliminate the deficit. Any such supplemental tax levy would be in addition to any increase that is authorized under the tax levy growth limitation, and the commissioner will determine if the supplemental levy will only affect the current year or if it will be a permanent increase.
The bill increases the term under which a Type II school district may rent buildings for school purposes without voter approval. Under current law, a district may, in the case of emergency, enter an agreement to rent a building for a term of five years. This bill increases the maximum term to 10 years.