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ELC TO NJ LEGISLATORS: GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED K-12 BUDGET WILL WIDEN INEQUITY

September 11, 2020

In testimony submitted to both the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee, Education Law Center is urging New Jersey legislators to modify Governor Murphy’s proposed FY21 State Budget so the needs of students and staff, especially those in New Jersey schools segregated by poverty and race, are met during the pandemic.

Governor Murphy previously took off the table the $335 million in increased state school aid included in his original FY21 budget proposal in February. With no new state aid, in the current school year NJ students are owed over $2 billion under the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), the state’s weighted student funding formula. At the same time, the Governor proposes to continue to cut state aid to districts under Senate Bill 2 (S2) passed in 2018.

Flat state funding and S2 cuts to districts below their SFRA adequacy thresholds have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable students. These students still lack devices and internet connectivity as schools reopen with remote learning. Their school buildings are often overcrowded and lacking proper ventilation. And school nurse and counselor staffing shortages make it difficult to ensure their safety and social-emotional health.

To close these gaps and provide a thorough and efficient education to all students, ELC urges legislators to stop aid cuts under S2 to under adequacy districts, increase state aid to all under adequacy districts, restore school-based youth services, take significant steps to close the digital divide, and allocate $1 billion of the State’s emergency bonding authority for health and safety repairs and renovations so all schools can meet requirements for in-person reopening.

“Without significant modifications, Governor Murphy’s proposed budget will only increase the resource and academic gaps experienced by students in high poverty, racially isolated schools,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “The Legislature must provide these students with the resources needed to ensure their health, safety and continued learning.”

 

Related Stories:

DIGITAL DIVIDE A VIOLATION OF STUDENTS’ CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

GOVERNOR'S PROPOSED BUDGET FAILS NEW JERSEY'S AT-RISK STUDENTS

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24