A package of bills intended to make school buses safer has passed the state Legislature and heads to the governor’s desk for final approval.

“We want to do everything that we can to make sure that school bus accidents like the ones we have seen over the past year never happen again,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., D-Middlesex.

In May, a student and a teacher from the Paramus school district were killed on a school bus after the driver collided with a dump truck on Route 80 in Mount Olive, Morris County, during a field trip. During the investigation into the crash, it was discovered the bus driver’s license was suspended 14 times over 42 years.

In response, several bills were introduced in the Legislature, including one to require lap and shoulder belts on all new buses, which was signed into law in August.

The bills approved include one requiring bus drivers to comply with certain federal regulations including drug testing and safety procedures. Another bill would require public school students to carry identification cards at school-sponsored, off-campus activities and requires principals to keep a list of students on school buses used for school-sponsored activities in case of emergencies.

A third bill requires the school board or bus contractor to verify to the Department of Education that a driver is no longer operating school buses within 24 hours of notification that the driver’s license has been suspended or revoked.

The fourth bill requires bi-annual safety training for school bus drivers and school bus aides. The final bill requires school bus drivers to submit proof of physical fitness to the Motor Vehicle Commission and to submit to a medical examination that includes certain screenings.

Several other pieces of legislation related to school bus safety also cleared the Senate on Oct. 29, including a bill requiring school buses to display a contact number or website to report driver misconduct.

Cumberland Regional hosts World Language Fair: Students from Cumberland Regional High School had a chance to hear from speakers who use languages other than English in their careers as part of its World Language Fair.

Guests shared experiences influenced by proficiency in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Haitian Creole and sub-Saharan African languages.

Careers represented included health care, community development, human services, education, law and finance.

“It was an enriching cross-curricular event that provided students with the opportunity to see how much learning another language or multiple languages shapes you as a person and enriches your life in many ways,” said Felicita Rosado, a Spanish teacher who served as lead organizer of the fair.

Brown’s loan-redemption bill to help teachers and chronically failing schools advances: A bipartisan bill to place teachers in chronically failing schools and to help teachers get relief from student loans passed the state Senate last month.

Under the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Brown (R-Atlantic), a teacher who took out student loans under the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students Loan Program and who obtains initial employment to teach in a high-need field in a chronically failing school may receive a loan redemption of up to 30 percent if that teacher remains at the school for five years.

“We have a generation of children looking for role models to help them succeed, and we have a generation of college graduates struggling to pay off student loans, so we have an opportunity to help our families by providing our children in failing classrooms hope while lifting our graduates out of crushing student loan debt,” said Brown.

There are 292 schools statewide that qualify under the bill, 11 of which are in Atlantic County.

Currently, New Jersey offers similar loan-redemption programs for nurses, physicians and dentists.

Raider Ready Program kicks off Tuesday

: The Ocean City School District has started a new program to help prepare preschool students and their guardians for a successful transition to kindergarten. The Raider Ready Program launches this year with six sessions designed for children entering kindergarten in September 2019, as well as their parents.

The first session, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, will introduce attendees to key personnel in the district; open up the Primary School library and LEGO Room for exploration; and cover topics including activities to teach math strategies, number sense and counting.

The district will host additional sessions once a month January through May. To learn more or to register for the Tuesday session, call Lisa Hurff at 609-399-3191, ext. 6516.

Cumberland County College to host workshop on Holocaust survivors: Explore the psychological impact of the Holocaust on survivors this week during a free workshop at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

Led by Anthony Iaconelli, a teacher and administrator at St. Augustine Prep, “Coming out of the Darkness: Survival, Liberation and Re-entry” will be presented 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday by the South Jersey Holocaust Coalition, the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, the Jewish Federation of Cumberland, Gloucester & Salem Counties and Cumberland County College.

Educators, students and the public are invited to attend and, for professionals, 3.0 Professional Development hours will be granted by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.

Iaconelli is an Alfred Lerner Fellow in Holocaust Studies from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous held annually at Columbia University in New York. He is one of only 500 Master Educators from the U.S. and Eastern Europe committed to teaching the public about the history of the Holocaust and preserving the legacy of Righteous Gentiles, non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The workshop will examine the liberation of German concentration camps, with a specific look at Ohrdruf, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, the psychological impact of survival, through the writings of Primo Levi, Filip Muller and Elsa-Linfens Reiner, as well as the challenges of re-entry into the world.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated. A light dinner will be included. Registration is required by email no later than Sunday to holocaustcoalition@gmail.com.

For more information, visit HolocaustCoalition.com.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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