On Feb. 27 – the fourth Tuesday in February, as required by state law – the Murphy administration unveiled a summary of its fiscal year 2025 budget proposal. Known as the “Budget-in-Brief,” this approximately 100-page high-level summary document represents the first step of the state’s four-month budget development process.

The administration’s full budget proposal, also known as the “budget detail,” will be available soon, and starting next week, the Legislature will hold public hearings, receive testimony from executive branch agency heads, and ultimately introduce, discuss, and attempt to pass a fiscal year 2025 budget bill for the governor’s signature prior  to the June 30, 2024, deadline. Additional information on the legislature’s fiscal year 2025 budget public hearing schedule can be found at the bottom of this article.

The New Jersey School Boards Association’s  Feb. 27 article in School Board Notes, “Governor Touts Education Funding in Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Address,” provided brief education highlights of the budget in brief. In this article, NJSBA provides a more complete summary. As additional fiscal year 2025 budget information becomes available – including the administration’s full proposed budget, the Legislature’s hearing schedule and the Legislature’s revisions to the administration’s proposal – the NJSBA will share relevant highlights through School Board Notes.

PreK-12 Education Highlights of the Murphy Administration’s Fiscal Year 2025 Budget in Brief

K-12 Formula Aid

  • The administration’s proposal would fully fund the School Funding Reform Act formula aid, marking the conclusion of S-2’s seven-year phase-in schedule. This equates to approximately $11.66 billion in formula aid, a $908.3 million (8.4%) increase over fiscal year 2024, and the single-largest investment in the state’s K-12 schools in history.
  • The administration notes that it “plans to review the funding formula following the completion of this seven-year transition period.”
  • To help ease the transition to SFRA funding amounts, the proposal does maintain a Stabilization Aid program, but would reduce funding for that program from the $20 million enacted in fiscal year 2024 to $5 million.
Preschool Aid

The proposal would increase Preschool Education Aid funding by $123.8 million (11.2%), for a total of $1.23 billion. This would fully fund programs that started in the 2023-2024 school year, and include $20 million to expand preschool into new districts, which the administration estimates would create over 1,000 new seats. As was done in fiscal year 2024, the proposed $20 million in preschool expansion aid would also be allowed to support other expansion needs like workforce development.

Extraordinary Special Education Aid

The proposal would maintain funding for Extraordinary Special Education Aid at its fiscal year 2024 level – $420 million.

Teacher Recruitment and Retention

The administration proposes to:

  • Continue the Student Teacher Stipend program started in fiscal year 2024 at the same funding level, $10 million.
  • Increase funding for the High Poverty School District Minority Teacher Recruitment Program from $750,000 to $1 million.
  • Increase funding for the Teacher Loan Redemption Program from $1 million to $5 million.
Academic Programs

The proposal:

  • Literacy: Includes additional information on the efforts the governor previewed in his Jan. 2024 “State of the State” address to “work with educators and legislators to improve literacy rates among our children” and introduce “new initiatives to teach our kids the fundamentals of reading – like sounding out letters and combining them into words.” Specifically, the administration proposes a $2.5 million grant program to “help school districts acquire literacy screening tools.” The budget in brief also notes that the administration will continue support for the New Jersey Department of Education’s Reading Acceleration Professional Integrated Development  and RAPID Plus programs, which are designed to enhance literacy learning acceleration professional development opportunities for elementary teachers.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Would establish two new grant programs to help school districts navigate expanding artificial intelligence technology. One program would “help schools explore generative artificial intelligence,” and a second program would “support school districts…create new AI-focused career and technological education courses.”
  • Access to Advanced Coursework: Would include $1.9 million to support initiatives related to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.
Student Health

The governor’s proposal would:

  • Free School Meal Expansion: Increase school meal reimbursement funding by $30 million to implement the recently-signed expansion of eligibility for free school lunch and breakfast for students from households making up to 225% of the federal poverty level (L. 2023, c.336). The proposal also affirms the state’s participation in Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer, a new federal program that will help children who cannot get school meals during summer, supplementing the $60 million to be received from the federal government with $2.8 million in state funds.
  • NJ4S: Maintain level funding, $43 million, for the New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services network of regional hubs launched in September to coordinate and deliver youth mental wellness services at various community “spoke” locations, including schools. The budget in brief provides some statistics on participation in NJ4S to date: as of February, 1,498 schools and 295 districts have signed up for the platform, and more than 1,2000 community-based programs have been administered. The budget in brief does not appear to indicate the administration’s proposed funding level for the Department of Children and Families’ School-Based Youth Services program.
  • Include $500,000 for training for school-based health professionals.
  • Community Schools: Would provide $3 million in funding to establish Community Schools.
School Facilities and Operations

The proposed budget includes:

  • Capital Maintenance and Emergent Projects: Would reduce funding for the Schools Development Authority Capital Maintenance and Emergent Projects Funding program from $75 million to $50 million. The $25 million cut appears to correspond to the portion of the program that, in previous years, supported eligible projects in regular operating districts; the fiscal year 2025 proposed program would provide funding only for eligible projects in SDA districts.
  • SDA Projects: Signals the administration’s intent to disburse an additional $350 million from the $1.9 billion that was appropriated to the SDA in 2022 “for current projects and to help SDA move forward on projects identified in its 2019 Statewide Strategic Plan and 2022 update.”
  • Provision of Menstrual Products: Includes funding ($3.5 million) to reimburse schools for the provision of menstrual products free of charge in every public school, including any of the grades 6-12, per L.2023, c.147.
  • Shared Services and Regionalization: Would continue the Local Efficiency Achievement Program and School Regionalization Efficiency Program programs to promote shared services and school district regionalization efforts. The proposal did not appear to specify proposed funding levels for these programs.
Legislature’s Schedule of Public Hearings on the Fiscal Year 2025 State Budget

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee will hold two public hearings each on the fiscal year 2025 state budget:

  • Senate Budget Committee Public Hearings on the Fiscal Year 2025 State Budget
    • Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 10 a.m.
      New Jersey Institute of Technology
      Campus Center Atrium
      150 Bleeker St., Newark, NJ 07102
  • Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 10 a.m.
    Remote only
  • Assembly Budget Committee Public Hearings on the Fiscal Year 2025 State Budget
    • Monday, March 11, 2024, 9:30 a.m.
      NJ State House
      State House Annex, Committee Room 11, 4th Floor
      145 West State St., Trenton, NJ 08625
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 9:30 a.m.
    New Jersey State House
    State House Annex, Committee Room 11, 4th Floor
    145 West State St., Trenton, NJ 08625

Members of the public may register to testify and find additional information on the Budget Public Hearings webpage.