Bramnick to host Facebook Live class on government for elementary students

Jon Bramnick

WESTFIELD, N.J. – Republican Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick will visit virtually with Garden State students Friday via Facebook Live to teach about state government.

“This will provide parents a break and give young people a good opportunity to learn about their state government,” said Bramnick (R-Union), a former professor at Rider University who taught government for many years. “My hope is that I might be able to give them insight into how government actually works.  I will not be discussing the virus.”

Bramnick’s lesson for the state’s students will be available to view on March 27; at 11 a.m.  Students and their parents will be able to ask questions online.

 

 

Bergen calls on Gov. Murphy to fight for schoolchildren and fix funding

Brian Bergen

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed spending plan has nearly 200 school districts across the state losing $155 million in aid. Assemblyman Brian Bergen, who represents parts of Morris and Somerset counties as part of the 25th legislative district, which is losing more than $3.7 million, wants the governor to fully fund schools.

“Only 64 percent of schools are getting increases, the rest will remain flat or continue to lose millions as part of a failed school funding formula that is hurting districts across the state,” said Bergen (R-Morris). “Among the towns I represent, there are five school districts facing a cut of more than $3.7 million and this is on top of what they lost last year.”

For the 2019/2020 school year, Roxbury lost more than $6 million, Randolph $5.3 million and Washington Township $5 million. This year, Roxbury is facing a loss of more than $1.55 million, Randolph $1.15 million and Washington Township could lose more than $900,000. In addition, two other schools in the district, Rockaway and West Morris Regional, are looking at 3 and 2 percent funding decreases respectively.

“The governor is increasing this year’s budget by over 5 percent, adding billions of dollars but still shortchanging schools by $1.2 billion,” said Bergen. “The governor is paying for pet projects instead of investing in our children’s education. The seven-year school funding plan the governor signed into law was supposed to fully fund schools, but it has just picked big winners and big losers.”

Murphy’s $41 billion budget calls for an increase in education spending; however, K through 12 school districts will be underfunded by $1.2 billion. Schools are saying that Murphy’s proposed $50 million in emergency funds for the districts suffering cuts will come too late because their budgets are finalized before the end of the school year.

“If the governor really truly believes an educated workforce is an asset, he should be fully funding our children’s education,” said Bergen. “I stand up for our schools and our children. They deserve to be fully funded, because every child deserves a quality education.”

Webber plans to introduce legislation to bring greater transparency and accountability to schools

Jay Webber

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Jay Webber announced he will introduce legislation that would require local school districts to implement best practices and expand the authority of the state auditor to ensure safeguards against fraud and abuse in New Jersey’s education system.

The results of recent state auditor assessments of school districts in Pemberton and Ridgefield Park highlight the importance of the legislation.

“Our school children, parents, taxpayers, and educators all have great stakes in the best and most efficient use of  our educational resources,” said Webber (R-Morris). “The state auditor consistently finds, however, that through carelessness or worse, school districts all too often waste that money. Laptop computers disappear. Health insurance bought for the wrong people. Failures to perform basic criminal background checks. New Jersey needs to beef up its ability to review and monitor our schools, and we need to do it now.”

The investigation of Pemberton schools revealed that administrators purchased 703 extra Chromebooks beyond the total teacher and student population, costing taxpayers $313,000. In addition, district administrators could not account for where they went. In Ridgefield Park, the auditor uncovered $3.6 million in unnecessary health insurance liabilities and multiple conflicts of interest on the part of school board members.

The New Jersey state auditor, an independent agency within the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services, conducts random, in-depth performance audits of school districts. A performance audit targets and analyzes how well a government institution is allocating resources and then prescribes corrective action for identified failures.

“A performance audit may be the only current vehicle that evaluates the actual performance of government institutions, and we should be looking to expand it for that very reason,” continued Webber. “It is a more powerful tool to identify waste and fraud than routine fiscal audits. Students and taxpayers are the ultimate beneficiaries of the corrective actions from these audits.”

Assemblyman Webber’s legislation will direct the state auditor’s office to release a compendium report based on past audits. The report will include a collection of past problems identified in school districts, as well as the best practices to avoid problems encountered in other districts. Each school district will have to affirmatively certify that they are in compliance with those best practices, and the state auditor’s office will have the authority to conduct further audits on school districts to ensure all are in compliance.

 

High school students must learn about safely surrendering newborns under new law

Trenton, N.J. – Today, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (S1126/A1380), sponsored by Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco and Jay Webber, that requires high schools to teach students about New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act.

“We know the Safe Haven law is effective at preventing tragedy and now teenagers will be taught about this lifesaving program. The information given to these students will help them make the right decision,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “Young people are particularly susceptible to acting impulsively, especially when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. This law gives everyone a safety net.”

Seventy-two babies have been safely surrendered in New Jersey since the law passed in 2000. According to the Department of Children and Families, a South Jersey baby was saved as recently as two months ago.

Jay Webber

“With this law, we ensure New Jersey remains a leader in offering compassionate outlets for parents in crisis,” said Webber (R-Morris). “Safe Haven education will let students know there is help available that protects both their babies and their anonymity.”

The Safe Haven law allows parents to drop off their unwanted and unharmed infants who are younger than 30 days old at police stations, emergency departments, first aid squads and fire stations with no questions asked and without fear of prosecution.

Public school students in grades 9 through 12 will start learning about the Safe Haven law starting in the 2020-2021 school year.

Safe Haven Infant Protection education legislation advances

Trenton, N.J. – Legislation requiring high schools to teach students about New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act goes to the Senate for consideration after unanimously passing the Assembly today.

In March, an 18-year-old Neptune High School student suffocated her newborn before the father threw the baby in a dumpster. Following the incident, Anthony M. Bucco called fellow sponsor Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin who agreed to advance their bill (A1380).

“If we can save even just one life, it will have been well worth the effort to educate teenagers on the Safe Haven law,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “We are reaching a portion of the population who are particularly susceptible to acting impulsively and equipping them with the information they need to make the right decision.”

The Safe Haven law allows parents to drop off their unwanted and unharmed infants who are younger than 30 days old at police stations, emergency departments, first aid squads and fire stations with no questions asked and without fear of prosecution.

Jay Webber

“Safe Haven Infant Protection already has protected many precious newborns, and this bill should save even more infant lives,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris).  “With this law, we make sure New Jersey remains a leader in offering compassionate outlets for parents in crisis.”

Most infant homicides occur at the hands of new mothers on the day of birth. More than half of all illegal abandonments in the nation result in death. Since New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act was passed in 19 years ago, 71 babies have been legally surrendered.

If the legislation becomes law, public school students in grades 9 through 12 will start learning about the Safe Haven law starting in the 2020-2021 school year.