It’s been more than a decade since New Jersey created the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) which intended that every child had access to the education they needed to live up to their fullest potential. Unfortunately, the SFRA has not lived up to its promise for two critical reasons: the legislature’s inclusion of Adjustment Aid and a Growth Cap into the formula.
What this simply means is with adjustment aid, it limits the decrease in State aid a district receives; and the growth cap limits the increase in state aid a district can receive, regardless of what the formula says. These limits hold true even if the district has more or fewer students than before or has seen an increase or decrease in property wealth.
By not addressing the harmful implications adjustment aid and growth caps has done to the formula this past decade, the State has sent underfunded districts $2.3 billion less than they were owed last year.
Every school district in New Jersey deserves its full and fair share of state school aid now — not tomorrow.
That is why Senate President Steve Sweeney proposed legislation which will eliminate growth caps, phases out adjustment aid over a seven year period, allows the SDA districts, which are former Abbott Districts, to have “cap relief” for seven years, and would not take any money away from Career Technical Schools. No gimmicks — no surprises — just fair and equitable funded school aid for every school district.
This means school districts will have more money to improve their schools and provide much needed property tax relief to residents. Addressing these core issues are an important step on the road to full funding of the SFRA and to restoring fairness to our schools and local property taxpayers.
The future of public education in New Jersey is one where every school is fairly and fully funded and every student has the tools they need to succeed.