Join Our Telegram Channel


Assembly GOP member Alex Sauickie, who, after winning a special election to replace the late Rob Dancer, now represents Jackson Township among other municipalities across 4 counties, has introduced a package of bills which aim to provide a meaningful boost in state funding for school districts, especially for non-public school students in Lakewood and surrounding towns.

The bills are a carrying on of the work of his predecessor's efforts to address the devastating effects of school funding losses under the funding formula law known as S2.

Alex Sauickie was previously a Jackson Township Councilman. He has been accused by The Lakewood Scoop of having "a troubled past", including by working alongside co-councilmembers to make praying more difficult for members of the growing Religious Jewish community, apparently in an effort to curb the growth of the Religious Jewish community in the town.

Assemblyman Sauickie's bill packet includes A4461 which allows Jackson, Lakewood, Howell, Toms River, Brick, and Manchester school districts to form a three-year, nonpublic school student transportation pilot program to tackle escalating busing costs. (Similar to the original LSTA pilot program which expired after 3 years and was not renewed).

This bill requires the Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year nonpublic school transportation pilot program in Howell, Lakewood, Toms River, Jackson, Brick and Manchester Townships. These districts have experienced, or are expected to experience, significant increases in the number of nonpublic students that are required to be transported under current law. This bill would help to alleviate the fiscal and administrative costs associated with providing transportation services to nonpublic students in the districts.

Under current law, a school district is required to provide transportation services to public school students who live remote from school. Remote is defined as more than two miles between home and school for students enrolled in grades kindergarten through eight, and more than 2.5 miles for high school students. If a school district provides transportation services to public school students, then it is also required to provide transportation services to nonpublic school students residing in the district who live remote from school, but no more than 20 miles from the nonpublic school that the student attends. 

The law includes a limit on the amount that a school district may pay to provide transportation services to nonpublic school students; currently, that limit is $1,000 per pupil. If the school district is unable to provide transportation services to a nonpublic school student within this limit, then it is required to make an aid in-lieu-of transportation payment. The State is responsible for reimbursing school districts for any nonpublic student transportation costs in excess of $710 per pupil. A school district may, at its own expense, provide courtesy busing to students who do not live remote from school.

Under the pilot program established by this bill, the board of education of an eligible district would disburse to the consortium of nonpublic schools an amount equal to the aid in-lieu-of transportation amount for each nonpublic school student who is attending a nonpublic school in the consortium and who is required by law to be transported or be provided the aid in-lieu-of transportation amount. The State would bear the full cost of providing the aid in-lieu-of transportation amount. The consortium would assume the responsibilities of transporting the nonpublic school transportation responsibilities of the eligible districts. If the consortium is unable to provide transportation services to a nonpublic school student within the current limit on the amount that a school district may pay to provide transportation services to nonpublic school students, then the bill requires the consortium to make an aid in-lieu-of transportation payment in that amount to. Under the bill, in the event that the per pupil cost of the lowest bid received exceeds the aid in-lieu-of transportation amount, the consortium may accept the bid, provided that the parents or guardians of the students, who would have otherwise received the aid in-lieu-of transportation, agree to contribute to the consortium an amount equal to the difference between the per pupil cost of the lowest bid received and the aid in-lieu-of transportation amount.

The bill provides that, if after providing the required pupil transportation any of the disbursed funds remain unspent, the consortium, as it deems appropriate, may provide courtesy busing to pupils who are residents of the eligible school district and are attending the nonpublic schools of the consortium. The consortium would refund annually to the Department of Education after the completion of the school year any unexpended funds received pursuant to the pilot program.

Under the pilot program established by this bill, the consortium would annually enter into a contract with an independent entity to audit the implementation of the pilot program. The audit for the prior school year would be submitted to the commissioner no later than December 1 of each year, and the commissioner would transmit a copy of the audit to the Governor and to the Legislature.

The bill also establishes an oversight committee to oversee the operations of the consortium in implementing the pilot program. The oversight committee would consist of five members appointed by the commissioner, one of whom would represent a nonpublic school which is part of the consortium. 

The bill requires the commissioner to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature two years following the establishment of the pilot program. The report is to contain information on the implementation of the pilot program and include the commissioner’s recommendation on the advisability of continuing the program and expanding it Statewide.

Another bill, A3686, would establish a School Funding Commission to study school funding formula and prepare a report that will serve as basis of new formula.

The bill provides that it will be the duty of the commission to study New Jersey’s current school funding formula, with a focus on the aid used to provide transportation to students attending charter schools and nonpublic schools; security aid; and special education aid with a focus on the effects of census based funding under the current formula and the feasibility of utilizing a tiered funding system.

The commission is required to issue a final report containing its findings and recommendations to the Governor and to the Legislature no later than one year after the organizational meeting of the commission. The report will be posted prominently on the Department of Education’s Internet website.

The centerpiece of Assemblyman Sauickie's omnibus bill package is a bill (A3893) he’s cosponsoring that allows school districts to receive state aid equal to what they received last school year.

"I won’t mince words. We need to do better for all New Jersey students, teachers and property tax payers,” Sauickie said. “If this funding formula is called fair, then those people don’t know what fair means. Perhaps they should consult a dictionary.”

The packet of bills have been referred to the Assembly Education Committee for their consideration.

To join a FAA WhatsApp Group, click here.

To join the FAA WhatsApp Status, click here.


Anonymous said...

Notice how quiet Avi Schnall and TLS are? A) They do not like this guy, B) His new STA will include all these towns, not just Jackson therefore it will be comprised of officials from all these towns - not just the "Askanim's boys". Any way this goes down it will look terrible for Avi Schnall because he owes it to Lakewood to convince Murphy to actually do something for our school funding, at the same time he can't possibly support Sauickie.

ab said...

Essentially, parents will be forced to either opt out and forfeit their lieu in aid or be forced to pay 1000 for bussing.