TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would permit high school students to earn credits for performing community service, if the program is approved by the local board of education, was approved yesterday by the Senate Education Committee.
“Community service projects are important educational experiences for young people. They not only teach students the importance of giving back to their communities, but also provide them with real-world experiences that can help them as they go on to college or to pursue a career,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Allowing school boards to establish these kinds of programs is the right thing to do to give our students a variety of learning opportunities. The fact that our towns and cities will also share in the benefit makes implementing the program that much more of a worthy endeavor.”
The bill (S-2633) would allow a board of education of a school district that includes grades 9 through 12 to establish a community service credit program that allows a high school student to earn credit as an optional elective towards the high school graduation requirements upon the completion of an approved community service activity.
The board of education would determine the number of hours required and the number of credits that could be earned. A high school student would only be able to complete the community service during the evenings or weekends, and only non-profit agencies or organizations, public agency or institution, health care facility, or other community organization could be possible locations that a student could complete their community service at as deemed appropriate by the board. The bill would prohibit the student from receiving compensation for the activity or substitute employment for the activity.
The Senate Education approved the bill by a vote of 5-0. The committee also approved a second bill (S3279) sponsored by Senator Turner to establish a State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize a student’s proficiency in one or more world languages in addition to English. The seal would be affixed to a graduating student’s high school transcript and a certificate, prepared by the Commissioner of Education, would be awarded to the student. The local board of education would award the State Seal of Biliteracy and participation in the program would be voluntary. The bill was approved by a vote of 5-0.
Both bills next head to the full Senate.