Goldmann, Kilkenny and Carton. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Carton, J.A.D.
[100 NJSuper Page 491] The Borough of Cliffside Park appeals that part of the determination of the State Board of Education
which restores to the local board of education school budget an item of $17,000 for premiums on Blue Cross -- Blue Shield and Major Medical insurance covering all employees of the local board.
The facts are not in dispute. The voters rejected the local board's proposed 1967-68 budget at the annual election held on February 14, 1967. They also rejected the board's second budget proposal at the election held on February 28. It then became the duty of the governing body of the appellant municipality to fix the amount required for school purposes (N.J.S. 18A:22-37, formerly N.J.S.A. 18:7-82). Pursuant to that statute, on March 11, 1967 appellant certified to the county board of taxation a school appropriation of $1,270,908, $110,000 lower than the board's second budget proposal. The local board appealed to the Commissioner of Education requesting, among other things, reinstatement of the $17,000 item. The Commissioner sustained the board's contention as to this item. The State Board affirmed the Commissioner's decision. This R.R. 4:88-8 appeal followed.
The single issue presented is whether the Commissioner erred in restoring the $17,000 item to the local school budget.
N.J.S.A. 18:5-50.7 a expressly authorized a local board of education to enter into an agreement with its employees to provide them with hospitalization insurance coverage:
"[T]he board of education * * * may pay as additional compensation to the individual members of the group or groups [of employees desiring to participate in a group hospitalization insurance plan], a part or all of the premiums on the group policy or policies * * *."
This provision was substantially re-enacted as N.J.S. 18 A:16-10. Consequently, it is clear that the local board was permitted to include in its budget proposal the amount necessary to carry out the agreement it had made.
It is equally clear that once the board entered into the agreement, it was bound by its terms for two years as to all of the members of its full-time teaching staff. N.J.S. 18 A:29-4.1 (formerly N.J.S.A. 18:13-5.1 and 5.2) provides, in pertinent part:
"A board of education of any district may adopt a salary policy, including salary schedules for all full-time teaching staff members * * *. Such policy and schedules shall be binding upon the adopting board and upon all future boards in the same district for a period of two years * * *. Every school budget adopted, certified or approved by the board, the voters of the district, * * * the governing body * * * or the commissioner, as the case may be, shall contain such amounts as may be necessary to fully implement such policy and schedules for that budget year." (Emphasis added)
Thus, the local board is bound as to such employees for a two-year period by its "salary policy" and must provide funds "to fully implement such policy."
Ignoring the broader, more inclusive phrase "salary policy," appellant urges that "salary schedule" does not contemplate payment of hospitalization insurance premiums. While this fact may be conceded, and indeed appears obvious from the statutory definition of "salary schedules" (N.J.S. 18 A:29-6, formerly ...