⚫ A bill would allow districts to hire out-of-state teachers, but there's a catch

⚫ The state's residency requirement is seen as a deterrent for qualified candidates

⚫ Critics of the measure say it'll do nothing to address a teacher shortage


School advocates want to see New Jersey get rid of its rule that you need to live in the state in order to teach in the state.

So they're laughing off a proposed law that would permit out-of-staters to become teachers here ... only if they plan to move to New Jersey within two years of getting hired.

Under a measure approved on Thursday by the Assembly Education Committee, a school district would have to terminate the employment of anyone who doesn't make New Jersey their home after two years of getting a teaching job here.

The measure is seen by lawmakers as a stepping stone in the state's goal to address an ongoing teacher shortage.

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"This is just ... moving the needle a little bit on changing the residency requirement," said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, a sponsor of the measure.

Six-month waiting period

But critics of the bill claim it won't do much to address the issue — a job with such a serious stipulation isn't very attractive.

Plus, the bill states that a district can't make an out-of-state hire unless the position has been open for at least six months and the district has made a solid effort to fill it with a qualified candidate who already lives in New Jersey.

"To think that a school would have to wait six months to hire a qualified teacher from out of state ... just exacerbates an existing problem," Betsy Ginsburg, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, told the Assembly panel.

Ginsburg called the bill a "thousand-mile detour" on the way to easing teacher shortages in the state.

Scrapping NJ's residency requirement for teachers

A number of groups are in favor of legislation approved by the full Senate in May that would eliminate the state's residency requirement altogether for three years. Following the pilot program, a report on its performance would be required within 90 days.

"We really don't know if the residency requirement is a major factor prohibiting qualified teachers from getting in front of our students," said Jennie Lamon, assistant director of government relations for the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. "In a border state like ours, we have to at least consider that it's a major barrier."

The state's residency requirement was established through a law signed in 2011 by then-Gov. Chris Christie. It also applies to nearly all public employees.

Currently, teachers who live outside New Jersey can be hired here, but they must be fired if they're not a resident within a year.

"Extending another year will not help," said Melanie Schulz, director of government relations for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.

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