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DISTRICTS’ COURT WIN RESTORES OVER $90M IN SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMS

ABBOTT SUPPLEMENTAL PROGRAMS TOTAL $415.6M IN FY04

The Abbott districts’ successful legal challenge to NJ Department of Education FY04 budget cuts has resulted in the restoration of over $90 million in Abbott supplemental programs. The rollback of these cuts brings the total amount of supplemental programs secured by the Abbott districts in FY04 to $415.6 million.

The Abbott districts, exercising the appeal rights authorized by the NJ Supreme Court in the landmark Abbott V (1998) ruling, have waged a legal battle with the NJDOE for nearly the entire school year over cuts in Abbott supplemental programs. In a March 18th Order, the NJ Supreme Court agreed with the districts that the NJDOE cuts were improper and violated an earlier Court order granting the State a one-year "maintenance" budget for FY04.

Following the March 18th Order, the NJDOE recalculated the districts’ budgets, restoring $90 million in supplemental programs. The restoration of these programs – which include reading tutors, school nurses, parent liaisons, guidance counselors and other essential programs and services -- is the direct result of the districts’ persistent efforts and commitment to their students.

"Because of the State's relentless pursuit of litigation, it took until March to get the Supreme Court to order these programs restored.," said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. "For the students’ sake, I hope NJDOE and the Attorney General do not use the same delaying tactics when disputes arise over next year’s Abbott budgets, especially since the Governor vowed when he took office to end legal wrangling over the Abbott remedies." he added.

The Supreme Court ordered the State to immediately provide $21 million in supplemental funds, or enough to implement 25% of the restored programs. Districts can apply to the NJDOE for the remainder, and the DOE must "liberally construe" those applications to ensure additional supplemental funds to any district in need before the end of the school year.