Newark, NJ — February 23, 2007
Governor Jon Corzine is proposing to nearly double state aid for low-income students and school districts, and will target the increase to expand implementation of New Jersey’s groundbreaking urban or “Abbott” programs.
The Governor announced the initiative in his proposed FY08 State Budget, released yesterday.
The Governor also announced an across-the-board 3% increase in basic or “foundational” aid, although it is not yet clear how this increase will be distributed to districts across the state, including the high poverty districts, known as special needs or Abbott districts.
The State currently provides approximately $80 million in state aid, called “Demonstrably Effective Program Aid” or DEPA, to non-Abbott school districts with 20% or more low income students. The Governor is proposing a $66 million increase for these students and districts, the first increase in such aid since 2002.
The special needs Abbott districts also receive DEPA, but they are also eligible for additional “supplemental funding” because they must implement full-day kindergarten, intensive early literacy, social and health services and other reforms. These reforms are not mandated in other low-income districts receiving DEPA.
The boost in aid to low-income districts will be targeted to expand several of the programs and reforms already mandated in the Abbott districts, such as preschool, full-day kindergarten and intensive literacy.
“Expansion of the effective Abbott reforms to other districts serving sizeable numbers of low income students is long overdue,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “We’re excited the Governor is moving to extend programs with a proven record of success in Abbott districts to other districts facing similar challenges.”
As in prior years, the Governor’s budget proposal represents the start of a Court-mandated process between the Department of Education and the Abbott districts to analyze the districts’ budgets and decide on the level of funding necessary to sustain educational progress in those districts.
“We strongly encourage State and Abbott districts to work collaboratively to reach agreement on the funding to support all of the programs and services that the students need,” Mr. Sciarra added.
Education Law Center Press Contact:
David G. Sciarra
voice: 973 624-1815 x16
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications