Arne Duncan the Drag QueenApril 15, 2009
Quote of the DayApril 16, 2009
The Education Law Center released a report yesterday that shows that the State has disregarded its own spanking-new funding formula, the School Funding Reform Act. While the SFRA is intended to supplant the old Abbott formula by dispersing school aid across the state to economically-disadvantaged children, Corzine’s new budget will cause a $303,000 000 shortfall.
The reason? Corzine’s capped all school aid at 5%. So districts that were, under SFRA, supposed to see aid above that amount will instead get less than the SFRA says they deserve. Here’s the five districts with the biggest losses in aid:
* Hamilton Township (Mercer), $8.1 million (24 % student poverty)
* North Bergen (Hudson), $8 million (56% student poverty)
* Bayonne (Hudson), $7.6 million (53% student poverty)
* Freehold Regional (Monmouth), $7.6 million (6% student poverty)
* Pennsauken (Camden), $6.8 million (57% student poverty)
The Education Law Center has a press release out – no fools they, as their team is currently battling the SFRA in court – with Executive Director David Sciarra in high dudgeon:
The ink is hardly dry on the new formula, and legislators are ready to break it. We’re once again neglecting the needs of at-risk students in moderate- and middle-income communities across the state. Only this time, Abbott districts can’t be blamed, since most of the Abbotts are ‘flat-funded’ and get no increase in aid at all under the SFRA formula.
Talk about undermining yourself. Just last month the courts ruled that the SFRA was a fair replacement for the old Abbott formula, but it was a highly qualified decision that specifically said, “we need to see how this works in real life.” Sometimes reality bites.
Maybe it’s not Corzine’s fault. Maybe our municipally-mad cost-per-pupil is out of whack by any measure and by any formula that attempts to provide equity. Has New Jersey created an educational monster, bloated by administrative costs, replication of services, and concessions to unions, that is so expensive as to be unsustainable?