Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of New Jersey owed $1.9 billion to districts funded below what’s needed for a thorough and efficient education. Roughly half, or $930 million, is owed to the urban, or former “Abbott,” districts. These underfunded districts already suffered from teacher and support staff shortages and a lack of resources essential to educate students.
The Governor’s proposed budget cuts $153 million from 196 districts, which includes $89 million from 31 districts with budgets below the adequacy level. These cuts, authorized by Senate President Steve Sweeney’s Senate Bill 2 (S2) passed in 2018, were part of a package that included the State’s commitment to pay the almost $2 billion owed to districts within seven years to reach full school aid formula funding. Without an increase in state aid for FY21, Governor Murphy should not have proposed the S2 cuts.
The budget proposal also provides no additional funding to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on districts segregated by poverty and race across New Jersey. These districts are facing an estimated 230,000 students on the wrong side of the digital divide, the unsafe condition of many school buildings, the 300 schools with no nurses, and the urgent need for additional staff and resources to remedy the profound academic, social and emotional losses suffered by countless children residing in our poorest communities.
This proposed budget will only widen the pre-COVID-19 resource and outcome gaps for students in our poorest districts and schools. We call on the Legislature and Administration to return to the drawing board and build a truly progressive budget for the 2020-21 school year that protects our state’s most vulnerable, at-risk students.
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications