When Governor Christie took his red pen to the Democrats’ FY12 State Budget, he removed full funding of the state school aid formula for the 2011-12 school year. As a result, 550 districts are now off-formula for the second straight year.
While compelled by the NJ Supreme Court to fully fund the Abbott districts under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), the governor vetoed most of the additional aid the Democrats’ budget allocated to non-Abbott districts. The bulk of the additional school aid would have gone to mostly moderate- and middle-income districts in suburban and rural areas of the state — districts that have repeatedly been denied the funding they are entitled to under the SFRA.
The final budget provides only a small increase over 2010-11 aid levels: approximately 2% of each district’s 2009-10 total budget. This is far below the amount cut in 2010-11, and provides no increase to move districts towards adequacy, as required under the SFRA.
The Democrats’ budget would have provided a one-year increase of $820 million to the 221 below-adequacy districts. Above-adequacy districts would have seen a one-year increase of $370 million. This funding could have been used for property tax relief and the restoration of staff and program cuts. The chart below compares 2010-11 school aid, the Democrats’ budget which fully funded the SFRA, and the Governor’s final budget for all off-formula districts (i.e., Abbotts are not included). The final budget underfunds the formula by over $850 million, shortchanging below-adequacy districts by $660 million and above-adequacy districts by $190 million.
The ten districts that lost the most funding are listed below; they are a mix of low- and moderate-income districts that saw about one-third of their budgets cut by the Governor. Bayonne and North Bergen Township were shorted the largest amount, over $25 million each.
The Governor’s veto was a major setback towards fair and full school funding for moderate and middle income districts, and for at-risk students regardless of zip code. Despite this temporary setback, advocates are preparing a major campaign next year to secure fair funding under the SFRA formula in the FY13 State budget – for all districts and students across New Jersey.
To find out how much aid your district lost, click here.
Policy and Outreach Coordinator
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications