Governor Christie made the right decision by not trying to force implementation of his so-called “fairness formula” for redistributing school aid through the budget process. That action would have been unconstitutional and would have caused immeasurable chaos for students and schools across the state.
But the Governor is dead wrong when he calls our school funding formula, the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), a “disaster.” His claim that the SFRA was “fast tracked through the Legislature in a matter of 10 days” is completely false. The formula took over five years to develop and wasn’t “hatched” by “big government experts” or the NJ Supreme Court, as the Governor stated today. In fact, countless NJ educators helped build the formula, which was then vetted in over a year of public hearings held in every corner of the state.
The Governor also leaves out that the SFRA was passed with bipartisan support and is the only formula in 50 years to have been approved by the NJ Supreme Court as providing every New Jersey student with the resources needed to succeed in school.
The SFRA formula is a fair and equitable method of determining school aid based on student and school need, not crass politics. It is a national model. If properly funded, every student in every school and district – including charter schools – will be afforded the educational opportunity they deserve and are entitled to.
We’re confident the Legislature will, in short order, reject the Governor’s invitation to repeal and replace the SFRA in 100 days.
The formula is not broken. It’s not a disaster. The only disaster is Governor Christie’s stubborn refusal to put any new state aid into the formula for six straight years, on the heels of his monumental aid cuts in 2010, his first year in office.
Sadly, the Governor’s last budget proposal is more of the same. This marks the 8th, and thankfully last, year in which the Governor has refused to fund the formula.
We will be working with Legislators to increase school aid under the SFRA in the FY18 State Budget so those school districts most in need receive the increases their children need and are owed by the state.
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications