Education Law Center strongly supports the budget resolution recently introduced by Senator Teresa Ruiz, which provides an additional $311 million to be allocated to districts through the state’s school funding formula, the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA).
Since June, when Governor Phil Murphy rescinded the $335 million SFRA increase he proposed in his February FY21 State Budget address, ELC has made clear that flat SFRA funding and state aid cuts will most harm students in low-income districts. These students are on the wrong side of the digital divide, have suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are still experiencing remote learning as their school buildings – overcrowded and with poor ventilation and other issues – remain closed. Furthermore, many of these students retain their constitutional entitlement to full SFRA funding.
At the same time, the Governor proposed continuing the cuts to state adjustment aid under Senate Bill 2 (S2), even in the case of 31 districts spending below adequacy, or the level required by the SFRA formula for a thorough and efficient education.
Senator Ruiz rightly notes that the aid cuts required by S2 were conditioned on a commitment to increase state aid to reach full SFRA funding within seven years. Without keeping up that end of the bargain, the S2 cuts have no justification and would only harm students.
At a time when schools require more, not fewer, resources to provide educational opportunities to their students during the COVID-19 public health crisis – including the requirement to protect the physical and mental health of students and staff – the New Jersey Legislature must step up to meet this challenge.
ELC expresses our full support for Senator Ruiz’s budget resolution, though we continue to urge legislators to rescind any proposed aid cuts to the 31 districts spending below the constitutional levels. We therefore call on legislators and Governor Murphy to enact the resolution into law so our students have the resources essential to overcome the obstacles of the current moment and continue on their path to educational attainment.
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24
Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications