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Sweeney & Burzichelli Hold Roundtable on SFRA School Funding Plan in Paulsboro

Paulsboro – Senate President Steve Sweeney joined with local officials, educators and others today in a roundtable discussion on the School Funding Reform Act that will provide full funding to all school districts in New Jersey, a plan that will deliver a boost for the Paulsboro schools and the many other communities that are underfunded by the current school aid formula.

The Paulsboro School District is funded at only 84 percent of the formula, receives no adjustment aid. It would receive an additional $2.7 million in aid under Senator Sweeney’s plan by bringing the district to 100 percent of the formula.

“We know that a quality education is the most powerful tool we can give to our children to put them on a path for future success,” said Senator Sweeney. “The plan we have created to fully fund all of our school districts eliminates the greatest hurdle towards equality – it removes politics from the process and sticks to what should have been our top educational priority all along, running the formula and funding it.”

“We need to bring full funding to all our schools so that all our students have the opportunity for a quality education and the plan already approved by the Senate will get that done,” said Assemblyman Burzichelli. “Fair funding is full funding and equal opportunity should be our priority.”

Also participating in today’s forum were Mayor Gary Stevenson; John Giovannitti, Borough Council President & Paulsboro Schools Director of Special Services; Thomas Ridinger, School Board President; School Board Members Joseph Lisa and Irma Stevenson; Dr. Laurie Bandlow, Superintendent; Jennifer Johnson, Business Administrator; Paul Morina, Principal, Paulsboro High School, and local parents.

Under the Senate-approved bill, a 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. The school funding formula should be reviewed every two years, according to the legislation.

The Senate voted 29 – 6 to create a special commission that would develop a plan to provide full funding for all New Jersey schools, reforming a system that currently underfunds 80 percent of the state’s school districts. Sponsored by Senator Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, the bill, SCR-119, would have the Senate and Assembly work together to create a six-member “State School Funding Aid Fairness Commission” to develop a five-year plan to fully fund the education formula with annual increases of $100 million.

In addition to the $500 million in increased aid, the $680 million in adjustment aid that is now overfunding some districts would be reallocated to bring all districts to full funding. This redistribution of “hold harmless” adjustment aid to underfunded school districts will help to eliminate the enrollment growth cap that discriminates against growing school districts in both cities and suburbs.

In contrast, Paulsboro would lose $5.2 million under the governor’s funding plan, which would leave the district at only 47 percent of the funding it should receive under SFRA without a growth cap.

The commission will also assess the impact of tax growth on the ability of school districts to fund their schools, evaluate special education services, look at per-pupil administrative costs, the fairness of the current equalized valuation and income measure, and the impact of property tax abatements. It will also look for recommendations to lower property taxes.

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Sweeney Joins Local Educators At Kingsway Regional For School Funding Forum


Woolwich
– Senate President Steve Sweeney joined with local education officials at the Kingsway Regional School District in Woolwich Township today in a forum discussion on the school funding reform initiative that would provide full funding to all school districts in New Jersey, including Kingsway.

The proposed legislation, S-2372, would create a special commission to develop a school funding reform plan within five years to close the gap that now leaves 80 percent of the districts underfunded.

“The state has failed to fund the formula or to keep up with the needs of the individual school districts,” said Senator Sweeney. “This has resulted in disparities and funding shortfalls for rural, suburban and urban communities throughout New Jersey. For fast-growing communities such as those in the Kingsway area, this underfunding shortchanges the schools and puts upward pressure on local property taxes. We need to act to remedy this problem by fully funding the school aid formula.”

Kingsway is a regional district that includes students from Swedesboro, South Harrison, East Greenwich, Woolwich and from Logan Township, who attend through a receiver agreement. One of the fastest growing districts in the state, Kingsway would get an increase of $11.6 million in state aid under the funding reform plan offered by Senator Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, the chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Combined, all the communities would get an increase of $22.5 million in school aid from the state by bringing them to full funding and by accommodating enrollment growth.

  • Kingsway now receives $8.9 million in school aid. With full funding and enrollment growth, it would receive $20.5 million, an increase of $11.6 million.
  • The Swedesboro-Woolwich local regional district gets $7 million, but would go to $13million, an increase of $6 million.
  • The East Greenwich local regional district now gets $3.5 million, which would grow to $7.8 million, an increase of $4.3 million.
    South Harrison gets $1.6 million but would increase to $2.2 million under the plan, a growth of $600,000.
  • In total, property taxpayers from Swedesboro, Woolwich, East Greenwich and South Harrison who make up the Kingsway Regional School District and currently receive combined funding of $21 million would see that rise to $43.5 million, an increase of $22.5 million under the reform plan, including full funding of the formula and funds to accommodate enrollment growth.

According to the 2010 census, the Kingsway district experienced a total population increase of approximately 100 percent since 2000, resulting in an increase in student enrollment by more than 60 percent.
In contrast, the funding plan offered by Governor Christie would provide these communities an additional $19 million in state funds, but it would do it by taking money away from neighboring districts. The governor’s proposal would cut $5.2 million from Paulsboro, reduce aid to Glassboro by $2.8 million and give Woodbury $2.7 million less. The reductions would total $10.7 million.

“We believe that state aid should be distributed fairly and equitably based on a formula that takes into account each town’s property tax base, its ability to pay, increases and decreases in enrollment, and the special needs of the children,” said Dr. James Lavender, Superintendent of Kingsway. “This reform plan will help Kingsway and other communities provide a quality education while protecting local taxpayers. It’s a strong step in the right direction.”

Under the Senate 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 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. Senator Sweeney said he expected the plan to include increased state funding of as much as $100 million annually over the five-year timeframe.

Today’s forum is part of an ongoing schedule of meetings and discussions Senator Sweeney and other legislators have had with city and school officials in different communities to discuss the funding problems and the value of the reform plan.

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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.

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Newark Forum on School Funding Reform Plan


Sweeney, Ruiz & Rice Join With Baraka, Local Officials & Educators to Discuss Benefits of Senate Plan to Fully Fund NJ Schools

Newark – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Ron Rice joined with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, other local leaders, educators and members of the clergy  in a roundtable discussion today to on the educational and fiscal value of the school funding reform plan authored by Senator Sweeney and Senator Ruiz that would bring all the state’s school districts to full funding.

For Newark, the proposed School Funding Reform Act would provide an additional $90 million in support.

“This forum brings a focus on the importance of supporting educational opportunity for all school children in New Jersey,” said Senator Sweeney. “Providing full funding will give the Newark’s schools an additional $90 million, money that is needed to lift the school system and its students. This is a goal that we can achieve.”

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.

“Students in Newark and across the state deserve access to a quality education and that means providing adequate funding for every child. We have a plan that will bring all schools to 100 percent of adequacy, providing districts with the resources they need to give students a strong foundation for academic success,” said Senator Ruiz. “It is a responsible plan that will help to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the 21st Century.”

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 Rice. “As a result, the funding formula has grown less fair and less adequate. Newark in particular has been operating with a multi-million-dollar budget deficit year after year. The lack of funding shortchanges students who deserve a high-quality education and the opportunity to compete in the modern-day economy. We have to address the lack of funding in our school districts, and hold the state – which controls the finances in many urban districts – responsible for its actions.”

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 Newark.

Also participating in the forum were Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, Newark School Advisory Board, Mildred Crump, President, Newark City Council, Kathleen Nugent, Democrats For Education Reform, Donna Chiera, AFT, Rev. Ronald Slaughter, St. James AME Church, Ceil Zalkind, ACNJ, Debbie Gregory Smith, NAACP  Newark, Councilman Anibal Ramos and Lavar Young, BAEO.

“The Newark schools and the teachers and staff who work so hard to provide a quality education need and deserve our support,” said Donna Chiera, President of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey. “The plan for full funding advanced by Senator Sweeney and Senator Ruiz is what is needed to help close the gap between what Newark is receiving and what it should be receiving. AFTNJ looks forward to working with the Senators on using the additional funding to implement an educational plan that will make a real difference for the schools and communities they serve.”

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. 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.

(Photo attached.)
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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.

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Paterson Roundtable Brings Focus To School Funding Reform Plan

PATERSON – Joined by local officials and educators, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Nellie Pou conducted a roundtable discussion in Paterson 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.

In Paterson, where growth in students has outpaced the school system’s resources, the proposed School Funding Reform Act would provide an additional $36 million in support.

“This forum is part of what will be an ongoing fight to move forward on a plan to reform school funding in New Jersey in a way that improves all the schools in the state and provides equal education opportunity to each and every student,” said Senator Sweeney. “This is a fight for the future of our children that will help shape the type of state we want to have.”

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.

Senator Pou emphasized the benefits of the Sweeney-Ruiz plan for Paterson.

“We should be working for equal education for all of New Jersey’s students and we should support the state’s entire system of education,” said Senator Pou. “The reform plan offered by Senator Sweeney and Senator Ruiz will strive for opportunity for all students. For Paterson, it will mean an additional $36 million.”

The state needs to address the growing disparities in school funding throughout the state, the senators said.

The failure of the state to fund the school formula has shortchanged school districts and has been especially acute in many of New Jersey’s largest school systems, including Paterson.

“The legislation sponsored by Senators Sweeney and Ruiz would get our district back to full funding,” said Senator Pou. “It would help communities like Paterson and give children in our city the hope of getting an education that will prepare them for today’s economy.”

Also participating in the forum were Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, Freeholder Director T.J. Best, Freeholder Sandi Lazzara, Councilman Ken Morris Jr., School Board President Chris Irving, as well as advocates, students and faith-based leaders.

“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, who expects 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.

Group Photo (Left to Right): Freeholder Sandi Lazzara, Rev. Kenneth Clayton, School Board Pres. Christopher Irving, Rev. Michael McDuffie, Senate President Sweeney, Paterson Rosa Parks Student Juliana Braka, Freeholder Director T.J. Best, Senator Nellie Pou, Councilman Ken Morris Jr., Paterson Education Fund Director Rosie Grant, Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, Pastor Freddie Carillo and Pastor Roberto Nieves.

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