WE'VE GOT A BILL NUMER! S3732 which restores $102 mil in school aid to districts that would have seen cuts under @GovMurphy's fy24 budget. @vingopal @AndrewZwicker r sponsors – both Dems in competitive districts this fall which would have seen cuts in their districts. pic.twitter.com/JfE2sg3HY8
— Daniel Han (@danieljhan_) March 17, 2023
Relief is in sight for school district losers in Gov. Phil Murphy’s allocations of state aid. While some districts are happy with their share, Jersey Shore districts have lost $188 million. While Murphy and his Education Department are following the 2008 School Funding Reform Act to the letter, that doesn’t always work out well: 150 school districts saw cuts far larger than they had planned for.
“When you see these dramatic cuts, especially this year, you have to question the equation,” said Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. “The attempt was to create greater fairness but this is a very complicated issue, one district doesn’t necessarily look like the next.”
Last night Politico reported that the State Legislature and Murphy’s office are “within reach on a deal to lessen state aid cuts to school districts, according to three people familiar with the matter.” This could put back up to $100 million for districts in Monmouth and Ocean County, and comes courtesy of a legislative loophole that lets lawmakers amend SFRA allocations.
More from Politico (paywalled):
- “A deal could be unveiled Friday [today] and put on the legislative fast-track with the Senate preparing to vote on it Monday, two of the people familiar with the matter said, although the Senate may reconvene to vote on it later next week if needed. The Assembly is expected to vote on it later this month.”
- “The cuts stood to be a political vulnerability for Democrats in a year where all 120 seats in the state Legislature are up for grabs; the combined cuts under Murphy’s initial plan would amount to nearly $160 million.”
- Senator Vin Gopal, chair of the Senate Education Committee, represents districts like Asbury Park, which saw a big cut. “Gopal reportedly played a key role in negotiating the partial restoration of aid.”
“The needs of our students are far greater than what we anticipated,” Executive Director of Garden State Coalition of Schools Betsy Ginsburg said in an interview. “The districts that have lost aid under S2 have the same needs in terms of mental health and staffing and programs to address student mental health. Not only do they have larger than expected needs … but they face these very unexpectedly large cuts.”