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Senator Peter J. Barnes III

Bill Would Provide Certain School Districts With Residency Requirement Exemptions

TRENTON – In an effort to attract more highly-qualified teachers to New Jersey schools, legislation sponsored by Senator Peter J. Barnes III that would provide certain teachers and school employees with an exemption from the state’s residency requirements was approved today by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.

“Quality and effective teachers are imperative to ensuring that our children receive the best education possible,” said Senator Barnes, D-Middlesex. “Unfortunately, as an unintended consequence of the state government residency requirements, we have narrowed the applicant pool of school employees, leaving out teachers who would be excellent in our classrooms and for our kids. This is of particular concern in hard to hire, but extremely important subject areas, including the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. By removing some of the barriers for school districts to recruit and hire highly-effective teachers, we are providing our children with the best and brightest teachers, and retaining these teachers for long and lasting careers in New Jersey schools.”

The bill, S-2169, would create a pilot program to provide certain school districts with an exemption to the “New Jersey First Act,” allowing them to hire non-New Jersey residents and for school employees to move out of state and remain employees of the school district.  The pilot program would apply to schools in counties that border New York and Pennsylvania – Bergen, Hudson, Passaic, Essex, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington and CamdenCounties.

Under the bill, the participating school districts would provide the Department of Education with periodic reports on the impact of the pilot program comparing the number of candidates applying for open positions and their residencies before and after the exemption goes into effect.

After a three year period, based on these findings assembled by the Department of Education, the Legislature and the Governor would determine whether to retain the exemption or to amend statute to eliminate it.

The bill was approved by the Senate State Government Committee with a vote of 5-0.  It now heads to the full Senate for approval.

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