TRENTON, June 15, 2017—The New Jersey School Boards Association today called on the Legislature to develop a final budget that will address the needs of underfunded school districts without negatively affecting the education of any student.
Yesterday, the Senate and Assembly leadership announced a plan that would provide $146 million in additional aid to underfunded school districts and would reduce hold-harmless (“adjustment”) aid in districts considered to be “overfunded.” The plan includes $100 million in new state aid for underfunded districts, $46 million through a reduction in adjustment aid to “overfunded” districts, and $25 million to expand pre-school education.
The Office of Legislative Services has prepared a state aid print-out, showing the impact of the proposal on each school district. (Adjustment aid reductions would be limited to an amount equal to 1.5 percent of the district’s total budget, according to the legislative leadership.)
“The New Jersey School Boards Association believes that increased state aid is vital to school districts that have experienced increases in enrollment and must expand their programming to meet the educational needs of their students,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “While we support the legislative leadership’s goal to help underfunded districts, we cannot support a reduction in aid for any school district—particularly at this stage of the budget cycle.
“School districts have built their budgets around the state aid allocations announced by Governor Christie in February,” he continued. “Those budgets have undergone public hearings and review by local boards of education. Local school tax levies reflected in those budgets had to be finalized on May 19. Reductions in adjustment aid at this point may result in program and staff reductions. This will only hurt students.”
Cause of Underfunding Enrollment is a major factor in the state’s school finance system, established by the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. For several years, the amount of state aid to education has been insufficient to cover the full cost of enrollment growth. Additionally, funding has been disbursed with a requirement that no district receive less aid than allocated in the prior year. Consequently, school districts with substantial enrollment increases have not received their full allocation since fiscal year 2009.
“We urge the Legislature to develop an appropriations act that will help underfunded school districts, but will not be detrimental to the education of any public school student,” Feinsod concluded.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of the state’s local boards of education and includes the majority of New Jersey’s charter schools as associate members. NJSBA provides training, advocacy and support to advance public education and promote the achievement of all students through effective governance.