Weeks after extending social distancing requirements due to the spread of COVID-19, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that ensures school districts continue to pay public school transporters as well as their private contractors and any shared services provider during statewide closures.
Assembly Bill 3904 passed the Assembly and Senate last week. The legislation amends existing state law to ensure that school districts pay wages, benefits and other compensation owed to both union and non-union public employees, during state or public health emergencies that result in closing school for longer than three consecutive days. The law also covers private contractors, which must use district payments to meet payroll and fixed cost obligations.
The new law also provides for continued online education of both general and special education students.
AB 3904 states that school districts shall “make all reasonable efforts to renegotiate a contract in good faith” for the company to continue providing services. But those negotiations can’t include indirect costs such as fuel or road tolls. The contractor must also inform the school district that it has insurance coverage for business interruption covering work stoppages.
School districts are not liable to pay contractor employee wages and benefits for services that would not otherwise be provided had school remained open.
Meanwhile, school districts must also continue paying educational service commissions and county special services school districts under and any shared services agreement or cooperative contract.