Agenda: State Board of Education

John Mooney | July 11, 2012 | Education
School choice is off the docket, but interdistrict choice is up for a hearing

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time: 10 a.m.

Place: NJ Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton.

What they are doing: A month after a lively meeting, things cool down at the State Board this month, with mostly routine matters on its agenda. There will be a policy report on early education and preschool, and final approval of new regulations for the state’s inter-district choice program. Previous plans for discussion around charter schools and new regulations on the schools have been postponed until August.

Board election: The board will hold its annual reorganization, and president Arcelio Aponte and vice president Ilan Plawker are expected to win their members’ votes of confidence for another year in leadership. The board has seen a big turnover in the past year with new appointments by Gov. Chris Christie, but Aponte — a Democratic appointee from 2005 — was nonetheless uncontested in retaining his post.

The other choice program: Although charter schools are off the agenda this month, school choice of a different kind will get a hearing. The Christie administration will complete its proposed regulations for the state’s interdistrict program, the first changes since the program vastly expanded two years ago to include more than 70 districts and 3,300 students.

Not all are thrilled: While the program has clearly grown in popularity, that has also brought some concerns about how it is being monitored and what flexibility is provided districts. For instance, superintendents from two districts in the program testified last week that some accommodations should be given to reject students with records of absenteeism or discipline problems. They also said the new regulations may need to be more precise in granting the state powers to accept or reject participating districts.

State’s response: State officials responded to the concerns in the final proposal before the board today. Among its answers is that a district cannot, by law, base admission on a student’s disciplinary record.