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It’s silly season in NJ’s State Legislature. New Jersey School Boards just released a description of three bills that are currently making their way through the Senate and Assembly.
S-1191 makes it “much for difficult” for local school districts to outsource cafeteria services, custodial work, and busing by requiring negotiations with bargaining units. NJSBA notes in its position statement that districts save millions of dollars by subcontracting out some services:
The NJSBA believes that it is critical that a board of education be permitted to enter into subcontracting agreements whenever, for reasons of economy or to advance the best interests of the school district and the educational welfare of the children, it determines such agreements are appropriate. Local boards of education should have a nonnegotiable, managerial prerogative to enter into subcontracting agreements.
NJEA begs to differ. Its update notes that “legislators were persuaded by the testimony they heard, as well as by the calls and emails from NJEA members”. NJEA pet, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, lobbies, “We keep hearing about savings as a reason to oppose the bill. Who knows better ways to find economies than the people who do the job? All this bill does is require the parties to negotiate.” (Assembly Diegnan’s campaign war chest is funded largely by labor unions. According to VoteSmart, NJEA contributed $16,400 to his last campaign, second only to the NJ Democratic Party.)
Bill S-1501 requires districts to provide a daily recess for all students grades K-5. “NJSBA believes that this issue should be determined by individual districts and not state statute. “
Bill S-2163 requires boards to go to court for binding arbitration hearings any time they need to dismiss, discipline, or lay off non-teaching school employees, essentially awarding tenure protection to non-tenured employees. From the bill statement:
This bill provides to non-teaching employees of local, county or regional school districts, boards or commissions the right to submit to binding arbitration any dispute regarding whether there is just cause for a disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, reprimands, withholding of increments, termination, non-renewal, expiration or lapse of an employment contract or term, or lack of continuation of employment, irrespective of the reason for the employer’s action or failure to act, and irrespective of any contractual or negotiated provision or lack therof. The bill places the burden of proof in the arbitration on the employer.
NJSBA opposes all three bills. NJEA actively supports 1191 and 2163 and appears agnostic on the 1501.