School Funding Forum Brings Statewide Education Groups Together
‘Formula4 Success’ Would Produce Equity In Funding, Opportunity for All NJ Schoolchildren
Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney joined with statewide education organizations today for a roundtable discussion on the school funding reform plan that would provide full funding for all school districts in New Jersey, a proposal that would help provide equity and opportunity for all of the state’s schoolchildren.
Seeking to remedy a school funding system that underfunds 80 percent of New Jersey’s school districts, the legislation authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz has already been approved by the Senate Education Committee. The bill, S-2372, would create a special commission to develop a school funding reform plan to bring all districts to full funding within five years.
The legislative proposal, to fully fund the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, would bring all the state’s school districts to full funding within five years, correcting the current practice that underfunds 80 percent of New Jersey’s school systems.
“This is a plan that aims to bring equal opportunity for all of New Jersey’s school children,” said Senator Sweeney. “We want every school district to have the support needed to provide a quality education for all students throughout the state. This is about equity that accounts for the very real differences between what children in different areas experience so that our schoolchildren are provided the knowledge and the tools needed to succeed in today’s economy.”
Participating in the forum were: Donna Chiera, AFT-NJ; Mike Vrancik, NJ School Boards Association; Melanie Schultz – NJ Association of School Administrators; Sharon Krengel and David Sciarra, Education Law Center; Jenn Keyes Maloney, NJ Principals & Supervisors; Betsy Ginsberg, Garden State Coalition of Schools; Janellen Duffy, Jersey CAN; Judy Savage, NJ Council of County and Vocational-Technical Schools; Steve Nagel, NJ PTA, and Peg Kinsell, SPAN.
“The New Jersey School Boards Association believes that changes to the administration of education funding require a studied approach,” said Mike Vrancik, of the school boards association. “We share the goal of a fair and adequate allocation of state funding for all school districts.”
“The Association of School Administrators supports this legislation and applauds Senators Sweeney and Ruiz for their leadership and a long overdue analysis of the school funding system,” said Melanie Schulz, of the NJ ASA.
“The ELC welcomes the commitment in this bill to bring all New Jersey school districts to full funding through a five-year phase in,” said Sharon Krengel, of the Education Law Center. “We must ensure all students, particularly those with the greatest needs, have the necessary resources to support an education that prepares them for college and their careers.”
“In our view, every dollar spent on the 1.3 million New Jersey public school students is a critical investment in our future and we look forward to participating in the upcoming process,” said Jenn Keyes Maloney, of the NJPSA.
“For the long-term sustainability and economic wellbeing of our state, we need to be sure the dollars are being spent equitably and efficiently,” said Janellen Duffy, of Jersey CAN. “We are focused on making sure all students attend excellent schools. We support this legislation.”
The legislation would create a special commission to develop a school funding reform plan. The Senate plan would bring all districts to full funding within five years with a boost of $100 million annually. The failure of the state to fund the school formula has shortchanged all types of school districts, including those in suburban, urban and rural districts, Senator Sweeney said.
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.
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.