CALDWELL - Gov. Chris Christie marked the start of the new school year by signing a handful of education bills and reiterating his calls for a longer school year.
Christie signed six bills before holding a news conference at the Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, where he spoke for nearly an hour.
One measure limits the expulsions and suspensions of kindergarteners to second-graders, unless a violent or sexual act was committed. Another bill will update the teaching curriculum on substance abuse.
The governor also signed a bill that establishes a program setting aside $75 per pupil at private schools for security services and equipment. The Legislature estimates the change will cost $11.3 million in the first year.
A bill that would have created a class of police officers just for New Jersey schools was conditionally vetoed by the governor. Gov. Christie said that he wants to make sure special training is mandated in the bill before he signs it.
Gov. Christie’s battle with the New Jersey Education Association was also brought up during the event. The governor has taken the teachers union to court to force union reps to stop boycotting meetings on health care benefit savings.
“Maybe we should care a little bit more about that than the hurt feelings, and constant carping and moaning and complaining by the New Jersey Education Association,” Christie said.
Union leaders have said that the governor is trying to manipulate the process and improperly cut benefits.
One of the teachers in the audience invited Christie to come speak to their seventh grade civics class and the governor accepted.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.