The Hunterdon County Office of the New Jersey State Department of Education functions as a state/county coordinating agency charged with providing educational leadership for 30 school districts. The Hunterdon Executive County Superintendent of Schools is responsible for the following:
- Acting as an advisor of New Jersey Department of Education laws, rules, regulations and acting as liaison between local chief school administrators and the public;
- Assisting applicants in obtaining Teacher Certification, both substitute and permanent, in the State of New Jersey;
- Coordinating input of materials from school districts for the completion of reports including monitoring, state report cards, mandatory testing, etc;
- Supporting the Executive County School Business Administrator who is responsible for preparation of the review process of all school budgets, pupil transportation, school elections, and other financial reports;
- Conducting prehearing conferences to resolve differences between boards of education and municipal officials in cases of school district budget defeats;
- Supporting the County Child Study Supervisor for special education students in Hunterdon County;
- Supporting the County Education Specialist in reviewing school district reports and applications such as Quality Single Accountability Continuum, Professional Development Plans, Summer School Applications, Comprehensive Equity Plans and Annual Review of Progress, Technology Plans, and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Applications. The County Education Specialist also reviews Bilingual/ESL Program Plans in conjunction with the Bilingual Education/ESL/Equity Coordinator;
- Coordinating monthly roundtable meetings with all local chief school administrators and various county-wide educational seminars; and
- Serving as a member of the board of education/trustees of the Hunterdon County Polytech High School, Raritan Valley Community College and Hunterdon County AVA Commission.
New Jersey Statute Title 18A:7-8. Each Executive County Superintendent shall:
a. Visit and examine from time to time all of the schools under his general supervision and exercise general supervision over them in accordance with the rules prescribed from time to time by the State board;
b. Keep himself informed as to the management, methods of instruction and discipline and the courses of study and textbooks in use, the condition of the school libraries, and the condition of the real and personal property, particularly in respect to the construction, heating, ventilation and lighting of school buildings, in the local districts under his general supervision, and make recommendations in connection therewith;
c. Advise with and counsel the boards of education of the local districts under his general supervision and of any other district of the county when so requested, in relation to the performance of their duties;
d. Promote administrative and operational efficiencies and cost savings within the school districts in the county while ensuring that the districts provide a thorough and efficient system of education;
e. Based on standards adopted by the commissioner, recommend to the commissioner, who is hereby granted the authority to effectuate those recommendations, that certain school districts be required to enter arrangements with one or more other school districts or educational services commissions for the consolidation of the district's administrative services;
f. Recommend to the commissioner the elimination of laws the executive county superintendent determines to be unnecessary State education mandates, other than the categories of laws set forth in section 3 of P.L.1996, c.24 (C.52:13H-3);
g. Eliminate districts located in the county that are not operating schools on the effective date of P.L.2009, c.78 (C.18A:8-43 et al.), in accordance with a plan and schedule included in the plan submitted to and approved by the commissioner;
h. No later than three years following the effective date of sections 42 to 58 of P.L.2007, c.63 (C.18A:7-11 et al.), recommend to the commissioner a school district consolidation plan to eliminate all districts, other than county-based districts and other than preschool or kindergarten through grade 12 districts in the county, through the establishment or enlargement of regional school districts. After the approval of the plan by the commissioner, the executive county superintendent shall require each board of education covered by a proposal in the plan to conduct a special school election, at a time to be determined by the executive county superintendent, and submit thereat the question whether or not the executive county superintendent's proposal for the regionalization of the school district shall be adopted. The question shall be deemed adopted if it receives a vote in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.18A:13-5. If the question is adopted by the voters, then the regional district shall be established or enlarged in accordance with chapter 13 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes;
i. Promote coordination and regionalization of pupil transportation services through means such as reviewing bus routes and schedules of school districts and nonpublic schools within the county;
j. Review and approve, according to standards adopted by the commissioner, all employment contracts for superintendents of schools, assistant superintendents of schools, and school business administrators in school districts within the county, prior to the execution of those contracts;
k. Request the commissioner to order a forensic audit and to select an auditor for any school district in the county upon the determination by the executive county superintendent, according to standards adopted by the commissioner, that the accounting practices in the district necessitate such an audit;
l. Review all school budgets of the school districts within the county, and may, pursuant to section 5 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-5), disapprove a portion of a school district's proposed budget if he determines that the district has not implemented all potential efficiencies in the administrative operations of the district or if he determines that the budget includes excessive non-instructional expenses. If the executive county superintendent disapproves a portion of the school district's budget pursuant to this paragraph, the school district shall deduct the disapproved amounts from the budget prior to publication of the budget, and during the budget year the school district shall not transfer funds back into those accounts;
m. Permit a district to submit to the voters a separate proposal or proposals for additional funds pursuant to paragraph (9) of subsection d. of section 5 of P.L.1996, c.138 (C.18A:7F-5), only if: (1) the district provides the executive county superintendent with written documentation that the district has made efforts to enter into shared arrangements with other districts, municipalities, counties, and other units of local government for the provision of administrative, business, purchasing, public and nonpublic transportation, and other required school district services; (2) the district certifies and provides written documentation that the district participates in on-going shared arrangements; or (3) the district certifies and provides written documentation that entering such shared arrangements would not result in cost savings or would result in additional expenses for the district;
n. Promote cooperative purchasing within the county of textbooks and other instructional materials;
o. Coordinate with the Department of Education to maintain a real time Statewide and district-wide database that tracks the types and capacity of special education programs being implemented by each district and the number of students enrolled in each program to identify program availability and needs;
p. Coordinate with the Department of Education to maintain a Statewide and district-wide list of all special education students served in out-of-district programs and a list of all public and private entities approved to receive special education students that includes pertinent information such as audit results and tuition charges;
q. Serve as a referral source for districts that do not have appropriate in-district programs for special education students and provide those districts with information on placement options in other school districts;
r. Conduct regional planning and identification of program needs for the development of in-district special education programs;
s. Serve as a liaison to facilitate shared special education services within the county including, but not limited to direct services, personnel development, and technical assistance;
t. Work with districts to develop in-district special education programs and services including providing training in inclusive education, positive behavior supports, transition to adult life, and parent-professional collaboration;
u. Provide assistance to districts in budgetary planning for resource realignment and reallocation to direct special education resources into the classroom;
v. Report on a regular basis to the commissioner on progress in achieving the goal of increasing the number of special education students educated in appropriate programs with non-disabled students;
w. Render a report to the commissioner annually on or before September 1, in the manner and form prescribed by him, of such matters relating to the schools under his jurisdiction as the commissioner shall require; and
x. Perform such other duties as shall be prescribed by law.
Any budgetary action of the executive county superintendent under this section may be appealed directly to the commissioner, who shall render a decision within 15 days of the receipt of the appeal. If the commissioner fails to issue a decision within 15 days of the filing of an appeal, the budgetary action of the executive county superintendent shall be deemed approved. The commissioner shall by regulation establish a procedure for such appeals.
Nothing in this section shall be construed or interpreted to contravene or modify the provisions of the "New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act," P.L.1941, c.100 (C.34:13A-1 et seq.), or to limit or restrict the scope of negotiations as provided pursuant to law, or to require an employer to enter into a subcontracting agreement which affects the employment of any employee in a collective bargaining unit represented by a majority representative during the time that an existing collective bargaining agreement with the majority representative is in effect.
Nothing in this section is intended to interfere with a school district's ability to provide a thorough and efficient education.
The County (437 square miles - 26 municipalities - 121,989 population per the 2000 census) has 30 school districts (4 regional high school districts, 1 vocational school, 1 alternative school, 1 regional elementary district, and 23 elementary districts) with approximately 22,667 pupils.
There are 47 school buildings in the 30 school districts with approximately 3,800 full and part-time instructional, supervisory and administrative personnel. Local school budgets prepared for the 2010-2011 school year, from all sources, amount to a total of $388,757,357.
All school districts are engaged in improving curriculum and increasing professional development opportunities. There has been a marked expansion of offerings in alternative and special needs education, adult education, new courses and methodologies in the general curriculum, facility planning, and vocational-technical education.