TRENTON – Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex and lead questioner in today’s Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing on the education portion of the FY09 Budget, made the following statement today following the hearing:
“It would be shortsighted for us to focus solely on funding issues facing the State right now and ignore those issues our schools will begin to deal with in future years.
“The recently passed school funding formula was unnecessarily rushed into law and now we see that there are some areas of school funding that are still very much up in the air.
“The funding formula has left charter schools shortchanged this year and perhaps in the future. These are public schools that meet the unique needs of thousands of New Jersey schoolchildren in all types of communities, both urban and suburban. They shouldn’t be forced to do more with less.
“At the same time, we need to bring predictability to all areas of school funding, including start up costs for new and expanded schools, the need for new classroom space for full-day kindergarten programs and growing retirement benefits costs.
“The Legislature needs to put into motion today the means by which to address these concerns and all areas of education spending that are predicted to increase in the near future.
“Prudent school districts will begin to look at their long term needs and costs and start shaping their budgets now to meet those needs down the road. It would be wise for New Jersey to also begin to plan for these costs now so that we’ll be able to meet the needs of all New Jersey schoolchildren in the coming years.”