Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Education Groups Brace for State Funding Fight

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Education Groups Brace for State Funding Fight

Article excerpt

Education and civil rights leaders gathered in Trenton on Thursday, days before Governor Christie is due to release his budget plan, to demand that he give full funding to schools as required under state law.

They are bracing for a fight.

The governor has been pushing a funding plan that would give the same amount of funding per student regardless of where they live, abandoning state law that requires that more money go to poor schools to help disadvantaged students.

"Our state has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds to all students so that they can receive a thorough and efficient education," said Thomas Puryear of the New Jersey chapter of the NAACP. "The future of our state and country should not be segmented by race, location or the ability to raise taxes."

It's still unclear how the governor, who will give his budget address on Tuesday, plans to allot money for schools next year. His office did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Christie lacks the legislative support to pass his so-called "fairness formula" that would give every district the same amount of dollars per student, with an exception for those in special education, who would get more.

Christie has kept funding to districts mostly flat during his administration, but some advocates worry he may try to impose his plan through the state budget.

"The fallout would be chaos in every district in the state," said Betsy Ginsburg, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. "State aid figures go out within 48 hours of the budget. No one would know what to do because there would be pending legal challenges, legislative challenges."

Most districts have to finalize their budgets by mid-April and send any layoff notices to teachers by mid-May, Ginsburg said.

"It puts all teachers in New Jersey, teachers who have been reviled for the past six years and lambasted and loaded with more work -- it puts them all in a state of even greater uncertainty," she said. …

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