5 Things that made headlines in N.J. this week

    A New Jersey city enlisted an outside collection agency, a study was released about the declining health of Barnegat Bay, and Gov. Christie still hasn’t signed the tenure reform bill, and it all happened this week in New Jersey.

    Below, we’ve listed five of the headlines from this week around the Garden State. What are we missing?

    Add to our list and tell us about the issues, events or news that made headlines in your community.Tell us in the comments below.

    Christie yet to sign tenure bill

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    New Jersey’s tenure reform bill has been on Gov. Christie’s desk for a week, yet he still hasn’t signed it. NJ Spotlight reports that few doubt he will, since he’s been touting it as a model of bipartisanship. However, the delay made some wonder what the governor might have to say about two issues that didn’t go his way: teacher seniority rights and the use of test scores as a predominant factor in teacher evaluations.

    Barnegat Bay in jeopardy 

    The health of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem is in decline and overdevelopment is to blame. A new multiyear study by the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences has concluded that nutrients in polluted runoff have altered the chemistry of the bay to devastating effects. Eel grass has sharply declined, taking with it important habitats for marine life. Hard clam populations have dwindled. And sea nettles, a type of jellyfish, have become more common, making it impossible to swim in some areas of the bay.

    Changing currents in environmental protection

    It appears that the authority of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is waning. A New Jersey appeals court ruled last week that the state overstepped its authority in ordering an industrial outfit to certify that its property was not contaminated before it could be closed or sold. Our podcast with writer Tom Johnson examines the state’s current laws and where they fall behind when it comes to environmental issues in New Jersey.

    Bridgeton enlists collection agency

    A New Jersey city is now using an outside collection agency to target residents who have not paid fines. Bridgeton is the first municipality in the state to take advantage of a law that allows towns to “…authorize the assessment of a fee by a private collection agency or firm, not to exceed 22 percent of the amount collected…” Officials say the amount of fines owed to the city totals more than $3 million.

    Charter school turned down 

    Though the announcement came last week, we learned from NJ Spotlight on Monday that the state blocked a proposed Cherry Hill charter school from opening this fall. In a late Friday release, the state Department of Education announced it would not allow the Regis Academy Charter School to open due to a lack of viable facilities, as well as questions about the veracity of the school’s application. But the fight isn’t over just yet: the state is slated to decide next week if as many as two dozen more charters will be opening in the fall, including the state’s first online schools.

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