Newark, NJ — June 27, 2011
Last week, Senate and Assembly Democratic leadership put forward a State budget proposal that fully funds the State school aid formula in FY2012. This alternative to Governor Chris Christie’s proposed budget would deliver aid increases required by the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) not just to urban districts, but to suburban, middle-income and rural school districts in all 21 counties.
The alternative budget would also implement the recent NJ Supreme Court decision requiring full funding of 31 high poverty districts, in accordance with the SFRA.
Under the alternative budget, 221 districts that are currently spending below the level determined by the SFRA formula as necessary to deliver the NJ Core Curriculum to all students would receive much needed aid increases. These “below adequacy” districts would be brought up to adequacy, while remaining districts would receive an additional $87 million in aid.
The additional revenue needed to fully fund the SFRA would be raised through a tax on residents earning over $1 million, according to the Democrats’ plan.
“We applaud the leaders in the Legislature for taking the right stand on funding our public schools,” said David G. Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “Not only are they following the law they put in place, they are also listening to families and educators all over the state, in all legislative districts, who have voiced their serious concerns about school budget cuts and their children’s education.”
Mr. Sciarra noted that the SFRA was enacted in 2008 with bipartisan support. “Now we need both Republicans and Democrats to stand by the formula that they passed to ensure at-risk students have adequate resources, wherever they reside,” he added.
In FY2011, Governor Christie cut state aid to schools by $1.6 billion. The alternative budget now under consideration will go a long way towards providing districts with the resources they need to educate NJ schoolchildren, and especially those most at-risk.
“The Legislators’ renewed commitment to the SFRA is a significant and welcome development for our students,” Mr. Sciarra said. “It’s now time for the Governor to follow their lead.”
For a detailed list of the 221 below-adequacy districts, including legislative district and county, the percentage of at-risk students in each district, and the amount of additional aid each district will receive under the Senate proposal, click here.
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