Governor Christie’s proposed 2017 budget would allocate $13.3 billion toward public education, up $548 million from fiscal year 2016. The total includes debt service for school construction; pension, Social Security and post-retirement health benefits for teachers; and $9.1 billion for direct aid to be distributed across New Jersey school districts.
Every school district would see some kind of aid increase in the coming year, according to the administration. District-by-district state aid allocations are online.
Budget highlights include the following, according to the state Department of Education:
Formula Aid – The propsal will provide $66.5 million in additional funding under the School Funding Reform Act’s K-12 formula aid categories. The Department of Education notes that an additional $4 million of that will go toward Security Aid, bringing the total of that category to nearly $200 million. In addition, a $6 million increase will go toward Transportation Aid, bringing the total of that aid category to $184 million.
Professional Learning Community Aid – A new category of aid, called Professional Learning Community Aid (PLCA), will provide $10 per student for every district, assuring that all districts will receive more state aid than last year. The nearly $13.5 million for this new aid category is designed to support the development of “learning communities” within and across districts, in order to help teachers and administrators analyze and use the assessment data they collect to improve classroom instruction, according to the NJDOE.
Host District Support Aid – Host District Support Aid is a new aid category that provides an additional $25.9 million to support school districts that send students to charter schools. To ensure funding stability to charter schools, the proposed budget calls for all charter schools to receive the same base level of funding as they did in the previous year. The largest portion of Host District Support Aid will provide the resources to help a number of larger urban school districts offset the cost of maintaining this level of charter school base funding. Sixty-four districts will receive Host District Support Aid.
Choice Aid – Total Choice Aid amounts to $53.7 million, an increase of $1.2 million from the previous year’s levels.
Special Education Funding – Total funding for special education will increase by over $11 million in the fiscal 2017 budget proposal. That includes an increase of $5 million in Extraordinary Special Education Aid, to a total of $170 million. In addition, Special Education Categorical Aid will increase by $6.3 million over fiscal 2016 levels.
Preschool Funding – Support for preschool fundingwill continue at $655.5 million for fiscal 2017.
In addition, all aid categories that were created over the past three years – Under Adequacy Aid, Supplemental Enrollment Growth Aid, Per-Pupil Growth Aid, and PARCC Readiness Aid – will continue to be funded at their fiscal 2016 aid levels.
The governor’s proposed budget will now be considered by the Legislature. The lawmakers’ deliberations will include committee hearings, public testimony and review of state revenue projections. The Legislature and governor must enact a state budget, or appropriations act, by July 1.
NJSBA will continue to analyze the proposed state budget, and will address it during the legislative hearings which are part of the budget-deliberation process.