Newark, NJ — March 7, 2011

For the second straight year, Governor Chris Christie’s proposal for K-12 state aid ignores the legal requirements of the State’s school funding formula, depriving over one-third of NJ districts of the funding necessary to deliver the Core Curriculum Content Standards to students, particularly those at risk of academic failure.

The Governor’s FY12 aid proposal comes as Special Master Judge Peter Doyne is examining the State’s massive aid cut in the current school year — 2010-11. Judge Doyne, under a directive from the NJ Supreme Court, is assessing the impact of the aid cut on the delivery of the CCCS in districts with varying concentrations of student poverty across the state. Judge Doyne will file his report with the Supreme Court by March 31st.

In the hearing before Judge Doyne, the State conceded aid was cut in the current year by $1.08 billion from the 2009-10 level, or 13.6% of state aid. And, for the first time, the State revealed the real aid shortfall to districts: a $1.6 billion cut from the level required if the SFRA formula had been fully funded, or almost 20% of state aid.

Adequacy Gap Will Widen in FY12

As this chart shows, the gap between state aid provided in the current year (2010-11) and the amount required under the SFRA formula is $1.6 billion. Under the Governor’s FY12 proposal, the “adequacy gap” will widen next year to an estimated $1.88 billion.

Districts Below Adequacy Will Fall Further Behind in FY12

The evidence before Judge Doyne also showed that the number of districts spending “below adequacy” under the SFRA, or the funding level to deliver the CCCS calculated by the State, rose from 161 in 2009-10 to 205 this year. Even worse, districts below adequacy, which serve almost three-fourth of NJ’s at risk students, fell further behind the State’s defined adequacy level.

This chart shows the number of districts below adequacy in 2010-11 by the district’s concentration of at-risk students:

A more detailed analysis of the below adequacy districts shows:

  • The budget shortfall in the 205 districts below adequacy under the SFRA is currently over $1 billion.
  • As a percent of the districts’ current budget, the Guttenberg district has the highest adequacy gap — 78%. In 91 districts the adequacy gap exceeds 10% of total budget.
  • The Governor is proposing to distribute a $217 million aid increase in FY12 without any regard for whether districts are spending below adequacy. The increase is also below the current Consumer Price Index of 1.23%.
  • The Governor’s proposed increase will do nothing to close the districts’ adequacy gap. Instead, by ignoring the SFRA formula, the gap in below adequacy districts will widen even further next year.

“The aid cuts in 2010-11 represented a devastating blow to the provision of equitable and adequate funding to enable all districts to provide students with the CCCS, which is the measure of a thorough and efficient education under the NJ Constitution,” said David G. Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “The Governor’s school aid proposal for next year does not even make a dent in the intolerable funding gap in over 200 districts now below adequacy, or the amount the State itself says our students need to achieve the CCCS.”

Education Law Center Press Contact:
Danielle Farrie, Ph.D.
Research Director
voice: 973 624-1815 x13


Copyright © 2011 Education Law Center. All Rights Reserved.

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications
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