Dems Budget Takes Out Funding Formula Language, Holds Tight On Numbers from This Year
The $31.7 billion budget unveiled June 21 by Democratic lawmakers eliminates changes to the school funding formula sought by Gov. Chris Christie that would decrease state spending on poor students and those learning English. A summary of the amended budget calls for funding schools next year at levels similar to this year.
The Governor proposed reducing the percentage of additional funding awarded to schools with high-needs students so that the funding weights match what lawmakers sought when they devised the school funding formula in 2008. Education advocates, however, say those levels are outdated.
Two weeks ago, more than 60 organizations, including NJPSA, representing minorities, poor students and educators penned a letter urging Democratic lawmakers to reject Christie's proposed education funding changes.
Currently, districts are given up to 57 percent more for a child considered "at-risk" because of low family income. The proposed budget aimed to reduce that to as little as 42 percent in some cases, by rolling back the weights to numbers proposed in 2003, prior to enactment of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA). SFRA incorporated higher rates in light of research by several school funding professionals. The proposed budget based the change on the work of other states like Vermont and Texas where weights are as low as 25 percent.
The proposed budget also sought to base district's state aid on average daily enrollment, rather than a single enrollment count done each year on October 15 — a move that could put urban districts with transient student populations at risk of losing substantial funding.
The legislature has until the end of the month to advance a budget they hope Christie will sign.
Deliberations will continue in the Senate today.
SUMMARY OF BUDGET BILLS - PENDING TECHNICAL REVIEW
FY2013 LANGUAGE CHANGES - PENDING TECHNICAL REVIEW
Source: NJ Star Ledger
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