A plan to give hard hit NJ school districts more cash moves forward
🏫 Many NJ school districts facing draconian cuts could get some relief
🏫 A $100 million aid plan is being fast-tracked
🏫 There’s a rising chorus demanding a reevaluation of the school funding formula
A plan is being fast-tracked to provide additional funding to New Jersey school districts that will see a reduction in school aid in Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed new state budget.
The measure, S3732, would offer more than $100 million to the districts that have been targeted to receive less funding in the fiscal year 2024 state spending plan put forth by the governor earlier this month.
According to Rich Bozza, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, 161 districts could soon be facing draconian budget cuts.
Softening the blow
The legislation allows districts to request an additional amount of funding equal to 66% of the difference between the amount they received in the 2022-2023 school year, and the amount of aid currently proposed for the 2023-2024 school year.
Bozza said every district is grappling with inflation, a shortage of qualified teachers, contract settlements as well as other fiscal issues.
“This will at least get them back to a point at which, they were expecting cuts and could deal with them more reasonably, as difficult as that still may be.”
He said one of the most disturbing things about cuts that result in fewer services and larger class sizes “is the ability to give kids the support they need, particularly having identified even greater need, both social and emotional needs coming out of the pandemic.”
Bozza said what’s become clear is the state has to reevaluate the entire funding formula.
Scroll down to find your school district
20 biggest losers in 2024 proposed K-12 aid
Cape May Point — Cape May County
Proposed K-12 aid: $2,027 — Difference: -67%
Wildwood City — Cape May County
Proposed K-12 aid: $1,912,821 — Difference: -53%
Riverton — Burlington County
Proposed K-12 aid: $548,200 — Difference: -42%
Ocean Gate Boro — Ocean County
Proposed K-12 aid: $382,276 — Difference: -38%
Seaside Heights Boro — Ocean County
Proposed K-12 aid: $441,817 — Difference: -33%
Toms River Regional — Ocean County
Proposed K-12 aid: $30,978,802 — Difference: -32%
High Bridge Boro — Hunterdon County
Proposed K-12 aid: $750,671 — Difference: -32%
Knowlton Twp — Warren County
Proposed K-12 aid: $337,872 — Difference: -32%
Milford Boro — Hunterdon County
Proposed K-12 aid: $193,255 — Difference: -32%
North Warren Regional — Warren County
Proposed K-12 aid: $1,240,718 — Difference: -32%
Stafford Twp — Ocean County
Proposed K-12 aid: $5,300,798 — Difference: -31%
Colts Neck Twp — Monmouth County
Proposed K-12 aid: $1,835,151 — Difference: -30%
Washington Twp — Warren County
Proposed K-12 aid: $803,768 — Difference: -30%
Asbury Park City — Monmouth County
Proposed K-12 aid: $20,702,767 — Difference: -29%
Hopatcong — Sussex County
Proposed K-12 aid: $2,716,165 — Difference: -28%
Jersey City — Hudson County
Proposed K-12 aid: $133,637,556 — Difference: -28%
Washington Twp — Burlington County
Proposed K-12 aid: $147,522 — Difference: -28%
Lacey Twp — Ocean County
Proposed K-12 aid: $10,470,890 — Difference: -27%
Lakeland Regional — Passaic County
Proposed K-12 aid: $1,746,442 — Difference: -27%
Ocean Twp — Ocean County
Proposed K-12 aid: $1,748,949 — Difference: -27%
Is the funding formula fair?
Bozza said New Jersey has a progressive school funding formula that tries to provide aid to kids where they need it (in poorer urban and rural districts) but “what we’re seeing is some districts cannot even get to the point at which their ability to pay, determined by the state can be reached, because they have budget caps.”
He stressed the situation is very complex but moving forward “in order for the credibility of the state in terms of how it finances schools, it has to be looked at in examining the formula and how it might change in order to be more equitable.”
The legislation, which has been approved by the State Senate but is still pending in the Assembly, would also require all eligible districts to include a written plan indicating how they intend to fund operations in future years when this aid is no longer available.
When a deal on the bill was worked out a few days ago Gov. Murphy said “as we work towards ensuring equitable access to the high-quality education every student deserves, this supplemental funding will support districts in adjusting to changes in aid under our state’s school funding formula.”