The following is a statement from Dr. Danielle Farrie, Education Law Center Research Director:
We welcome Governor Murphy’s proposal for a $624 million increase in state school aid in the FY22 State Budget, especially given the need for increased funding and resources to safely open schools to in-person instruction during the pandemic. This increase puts New Jersey back on track to fulfill its promise to fully fund the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) in seven years, the state’s model weighted funding formula.
We also welcome the additional $50 million to continue expansion of the Abbott Preschool Program statewide, continuing the progress made bringing our state closer to the goal of becoming the first to provide universal access to high quality early education for every three- and four-year-old from low-income families.
The increase in funding through the SFRA also meets the quid pro quo for cuts in hold harmless aid under Senate Bill 2. We recommend the Legislature maintain the Governor’s proposed $50 million in stabilization aid in the budget for districts facing S2 cuts. These and all districts will require more, not fewer, resources in 2021-22 to support their students’ academic and social-emotional needs and meet requirements for safe and healthy facilities during the pandemic.
We are, however, disappointed the Governor did not propose an increase in bonding authority for school facilities construction. The State’s fulfillment of the constitutional requirement to rebuild and renovate schools in the SDA districts is now before the New Jersey Supreme Court. There is still time for the Governor to show leadership on school construction funding and not wait for the Court to compel action.
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