Ten school districts have filed a petition with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to address “ongoing inequities in the distribution of state aid to schools.”
Announced on Friday, the legal action is intended to resolve a situation faced by 96 school districts that are “both overtaxed and severely underaided,” according to Dr. G. Kennedy Greene, superintendent of the Newton Public Schools.
Each of these districts (a) receives less than 70 percent of its state aid entitlement under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 and (b) taxes its residents an amount that is more than 100 percent of the district’s fair share contribution under the SFRA formula.
“These communities are being shorted some $739 million in state aid in FY18, and trying to make up that [amount] in part by taxing their residents more than $475 million above the state-calculated local fair share,” explained Greene in a prepared statement.
The petitioning school districts cited two factors at the root of the school funding problem:
- A shortfall in state aid that totals $1.3 billion for 2017-2018 and affects approximately two-thirds of the state’s school districts, and
- The setting aside of funds, which total $670 million this year, to guarantee that all districts receive aid at 2007-2008 funding levels. These monies are not distributed through the school finance formula and are applied “regardless of…enrollment increases and decreases or other demographic changes experienced by school districts over the past decade,” according to Greene.
The following school districts signed on to the petition:
- Newton (Sussex County)
- Middlesex Borough (Middlesex)
- Little Ferry (Bergen)
- Kingsway Regional (Gloucester)
- Chesterfield Township (Burlington)
- North Brunswick (Middlesex)
- Jamesburg (Middlesex)
- Emerson (Bergen)
- Wallington (Bergen)
- Swedesboro-Woolwich (Gloucester)
The full announcement of the districts’ petition can be accessed here.
NJSBA supports full funding of the school aid formula, and believes that the state must meet its responsibility to underfunded school districts. The Association has also opposed changes in state aid allocations that would have a negative impact on educational programming in any school district.