School Funding Formula

Parents and officials from some New Jersey school districts that get significantly less state aid than required by the school funding formula packed an Assembly committee hearing.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli questioned Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington about the Christie administration’s budget plan to hold school funding at current levels.

“Is the Department’s position that the status quo and the effect of the status quo is having is acceptable?

Harrington says the state does not have the money to fully fund the formula.

Governor Christie delivers his budget plan to NJ Legislature
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

In his final budget speech to New Jersey's Legislature Governor Chris Christie offered a $35.5 billion plan that does not include his so-called school fairness formula for spending the same amount on every student.

Christie says the 2008 school funding formula hasn't worked. He's willing to work with lawmakers on a new one, but says he wants it done within a hundred days.

Phil Gregory / WBGO

New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney is prioritizing special education as part of his school funding reform plan.

Sweeney says more funding for special needs programs in schools has been universally agreed upon by lawmakers and advocates during recent education hearings.  He believes families with special needs children are looked at unfairly in some communities.

Advocates want Christie to abandon his 'fairness formula'
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie will deliver his final budget address to the New Jersey legislature next week. Education and civil rights advocates hope it won't include his so-called 'fairness formula'.

Betsy Ginsburg with the Garden State Coalition of Schools hopes Christie abandons his proposal to provide the same amount of per pupil funding to all school districts.

"We believe that it is a misconceived band-aid solution for high suburban property taxes that will trigger a fatal educational hemorrhage in the state's poorest districts."

David Sciarra testifies at Assembly Education Committee hearing
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has launched hearings to examine how to revise the school funding formula of 2008.

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, told the Assembly Education Committee the Christie administration has repeatedly failed to provide money in the budget to fully fund the formula.

He says Christie's proposal for state school aid to be based on an equal per pupil amount in every district would turn the clock back 50 years.