Union City Educators & Officials Discuss School Funding Reform With Sweeney & Stack
UNION CITY –Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Brian Stack joined with others in a roundtable discussion in Union City today to focus on the educational and fiscal value of the school funding reform plan authored by Senate Democrats that would bring all the state’s school districts to full funding.
For Union City, the proposed School Funding Reform Act would provide an additional $28 million in support.
“This forum brings together a cross section of people involved in Union City education to address the need and the opportunity to build on the success of the local schools,” said Senator Sweeney. “Union City is an example of how urban schools can deliver equal educational opportunity for all students. We want to build on that success by providing full funding for Union City schools and for students throughout the state.”
Seeking to remedy a school funding system that has left 80 percent of New Jersey’s school districts underfunded, Senator Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, authored legislation, S-2372, to create a special commission to develop a school funding reform plan to bring all districts to full funding within five years, addressing disparities in funding that have developed as a result of the state’s failure to follow the formula.
The bill has already been approved by the Senate committee.
“We have made a great deal of progress with Union City schools and we are proud of our success,” said Senator Stack. “We want to continue to provide a quality education to our students so that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.”
The failure of the state to fund the school formula has shortchanged school districts and their home communities throughout the state and has been especially acute in many of New Jersey’s largest school systems, including Union City.
The state needs to address the growing disparities in school funding throughout the state, the senators said.
“The state has failed to fund the formula or to keep up with the needs of the individual school districts,” said Senator Sweeney. “As a result, the funding formula has grown less fair and less adequate, with the fastest-growing districts being shortchanged the most, which puts upward pressure on property taxes.”
The commission will put the plan into legislation that will have to be approved or rejected in its existing form with up-or-down votes by the Legislature.
“We believe this is the first responsible approach to meeting the mission of the school funding formula that aid follows the child and to bring all districts to full funding in a fair and meaningful way,” said Senator Sweeney.
Senator Sweeney said he expected the plan to include increased state funding of as much as $100 million annually over the five-year timeframe.
Under the proposed legislation, a four-member “State School Funding Fairness Commission” would be established and given one year to develop a plan that would bring every school district in the state to “adequacy funding” within five years. The Administration would appoint two commissioners and the Senate President and Assembly Speaker would choose one each, according to the bill.
Also participating were Silvia Abbato, Superintendent, Lois Corrigan, Asst. Superintendent, Ryan Lewis, Principal, UCHS, Wally McBell, Vice Principal, Grammar School, Rudy Baez, Principal, Freshman Academy, Melissa Brzuszkiewicz, Assistant Principal, Veterans’ Memorial Elementary School, Mercedes Joaquin, Director Community Relations, Board Of Education, Justin Mercado, Director of Facilities, Union City Board of Education, Jeanette Pena, President, Union City Board of Education, Carlos Vallejo, Vice President, Union City Board of Education, Alex Velazquez, Board Member, Union City Board of Education, Joe Isola, Board Member, Union City Board of Education, Maryury Martinelli, Commissioner, Union City Revenue and Finance, Celin Valdina, Commissioner, Union City Parks and Recreation, students and others.