Statehouse Democrats Blast Christie Administration’s 2013 School Funding Formula

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 Check out today’s NJ Spotlight for the big education news story of the day: the Democrats in the Assembly and Legislature are in the midst of passing a resolution condemning the Christie Administration’s proposal for school funding next year as arbitrary, miserly, and ill-informed.

Specifically, the Educational Adequacy Report, presented last month by Comm. Cerf (way late, also dimly viewed by the resolvers) proposes to raise the cost per pupil but significantly lower the adjustments intended to compensate for extra education needs for children with disabilities, kids learning English, and those from high-poverty homes. Overall, about 100 districts would get more money than last year and 152 would get less. (Here’s the list.)

How pissed are the Democrats? Here’s a sample from the Resolution:

WHEREAS, On December 14, 2012, 835 days after the date stipulated in the school funding law, the Governor submitted the Educational Adequacy Report to the Legislature. The report did not include any new substantive analysis regarding the resources that are necessary to provide educational services to all students consistent with the State’s standards. Rather, it largely restated or slightly modified the recommendations included in the Education Funding Report;

On the report’s justification for lowering aid:

WHEREAS, This explanation is devoid of the type of research and analysis of the school funding level necessary to achieve the State’s standards as required by the “School Funding Reform Act of 2008,” or as expected by the Supreme Court in its ruling;

Specifically regarding the Adequacy Report’s intention to raise the amount of money districts must spend on special needs kids before the state kicks in – from $45K to $50K –

WHEREAS, The department also recommended increasing the extraordinary special education aid thresholds by $5,000. In the report, the department stated that it, “…anticipates that this change will allow for only those students with the highest cost services to be eligible, and will help ensure that the State can reimburse those costs at the higher rate provided for in the SFRA.” This explanation suggests that the recommendation is motivated by a desire to reduce State expenditures, not on any measure of a reasonable benchmark that should be used to provide aid to school districts to minimize the fiscal stress that may occur when a school district incurs exceptionally high costs for a small number of students;

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