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Senate Approves Turner Bill Streamlining Education Commissioner’s Powers

TRENTON – The Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner aimed at strengthening and streamlining the ability of the Department of Education to develop and apply the rules governing local schools and holding school districts accountable.

“In recent weeks, New Jersey has seen several cases in which local school districts have failed their students and local taxpayers. Between the ridiculous $740,000 payout promised by Keansburg’s to their retiring Superintendent and the inappropriate use of substitute teachers at Joyce Kilmer Elementary in Trenton this year, it has become clear that we need stronger State oversight of all of New Jersey’s school districts,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer.

The Senator’s bill, S-1911, would grant the Commissioner of Education rule-making authority in several areas related to fiscal accountability, efficiency and budgeting procedures. Specifically, the bill would allow the Commissioner to issue emergency regulations in relation to several recently enacted laws: the School District Accountability Act, the property tax levy cap law, the CORE law, and the School District Fiscal Accountability Act.

Senator Turner explained, “We have passed several laws over the last few years that place stronger checks against fiscal waste in all New Jersey school districts. Now we are giving the Commissioner of Education the power to enforce those laws and hold districts accountable for their actions.”

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 24-11 and the Assembly by a vote of 64-12 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

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