Newark, NJ — May 24, 2011
Statement from David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center (ELC) and lead attorney for the plaintiff schoolchildren in the current school funding case:
The NJ Supreme Court ruled in today’s decision that the State’s failure to fund the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) caused “instructionally consequential and significant” harm to at-risk students in districts across the state. The Court also found that the harm to NJ schoolchildren from the funding cut is not a “minor infringement” to their right to a thorough and efficient education, but “a real substantial and consequential blow” to that right.
We are gratified that the Court has reaffirmed its longstanding commitment to protect the constitutional rights of needy school children, even in difficult economic times.
On behalf of the plaintiffs, ELC argued vigorously for full funding of the SFRA statewide, in accordance with the Court’s May 2009 decision upholding the formula. However, because of the limited scope of the Abbott case, the Court ordered that the formula be fully funded in FY12 for students in only the 31 high-need, urban districts.
While the Court’s order is limited, the Governor and the Legislature have a duty and responsibility under the SFRA law to remedy the harmful impact of the FY11 formula aid cuts on at-risk students wherever they reside in the state.
We call upon the Governor and Legislature to ensure that the funding needs of at-risk students in all NJ districts are met. ELC is prepared to work with Governor Christie, Attorney General Dow and Legislative leaders on a plan to fully fund the formula in the FY12 budget for students in all districts across the state.
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