🔵 Advocates say that a residency requirement is contributing to a teacher shortage

🔵 A measure moving through Trenton would scrap the rule for three years

🔵 Republican senator is concerned about pension payments going to out-of-staters

If you want to be a teacher in a New Jersey school, you must also be a resident of the Garden State.

A bill advanced on Monday by the Senate Education Committee would scrap the residency requirement — at least temporarily — as a potential way to address a shortfall of quality teachers.

"The good thing is, it's a three-year pilot," said Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, chair of the committee. "We have a major teaching shortage, so, just trying to add one more tool."

NJ's 3-year proposal

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 — the bill approved on Monday only applies to individuals hired by schools.

"We believe whatever strategies can be implemented in order to ensure that we can meet the need of the current teacher workforce in schools is vital," said Althea Ford, with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

Under the legislation, the Department of Education would have to submit a report on the performance of the trial run within 90 days of its completion.

The bill notes that once the three years were to run out, any out-of-stater hired under the program can continue to work in New Jersey, even if the individual experiences a "break in service."

Before voting to advance the measure, Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, said the legislation may carry more weight if it were designed specifically for individuals who plan to move to New Jersey.

"I do have concerns about giving state pensions to employees who are not residents of the state of New Jersey," Corrado said.

An Assembly version of the bill has not yet been considered.

In the fall of 2023, the New Jersey Education Association said that New Jersey's teacher shortage is getting worse. It's an issue across all subject areas in all grade levels.

Elimination of the residency requirement was recommended as a solution in a 2023 report from a task force that was crafted to look at the issue of public school staff shortages in New Jersey.

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