Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Schools Await Details of Proposed Rise in State Aid

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Schools Await Details of Proposed Rise in State Aid

Article excerpt

Governor Christie proposed boosting aid to public schools by $121 million Tuesday, and now districts are awaiting the details about how much each would receive.

Christie has often asserted that the school funding law sends a disproportionate sum to failing urban schools, and has argued more spending does not equal better achievement.

"Our expectation is the vast majority of districts will receive a slight increase in overall school aid," said Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.

Those numbers are due by late Thursday. A spokesman for the Education Department said the goal was a return to the 2008 school funding formula. That formula calculates the amount necessary to provide an adequate education for each student, and gives extra aid to support programs for students who are poor, disabled or speak limited English.

The governor's proposed $32.1 billion state budget provides $7.8 billion in that formula aid, which includes the main pots of state money sent to public school districts. That's up $121 million from the current year.

The cost of public education is the biggest driver of local property taxes in New Jersey, and regularly makes up about a third of the state budget. Including payments for school construction debt, and teachers' pensions and benefits, the spending plan would boost education funding overall to $11.7 billion.

Christie slashed $1.3 billion of direct aid to public schools during his first few months in office, citing the severe fiscal crisis and the loss of federal stimulus money.

The budget Christie signed in June began restoring those cuts, by sending $369 million more to the 556 districts not included in a state Supreme Court ruling that covers funding for New Jersey's poorest districts, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association. Due to a Supreme Court order last spring, Christie also sent an additional $447 million to those 31 poor districts, known as Abbott districts. …

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