FREEHOLD – Meeting with school district officials and teachers today at the Park Avenue Elementary School, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Vin Gopal praised the work of local educators and reinforced the importance of having restored the funding intent of the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 with the passage and enactment of S-2 in July.
“Public schools are ground zero for starting our children on the path to success – it begins here,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “That was why I fought for years to get the right amount of school funding to districts in need, districts where enrollment was increasing but state funding was not. Freehold is a prime example of a district that is benefiting from the correction we passed in the Legislature and was signed by the governor this year. People always say we don’t fix anything in Trenton. Well, we fixed the school funding formula and here’s the proof.”
“The first day of school for teachers is a little like the first day for students: it offers the promise of a new academic year,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth) “What’s different this year, is the state is upholding its promise to the administrators, teachers and students in districts like Freehold by sending the amount of state aid our funding formula requires. In the case of Freehold Borough Schools, that equated to a more than $3 million increase in aid compared to last year.”
“We in Freehold Borough were honored to have Senate President Sweeney and our own Senator Gopal stop in the district today to visit Park Ave Elementary and Freehold Intermediate School,” said Freehold Borough School District Superintendent Rocco Tomazic. “We are fully aware of the key leadership role Senate President Sweeney played in getting the school funding formula back on track to fulfill its original purpose. Working with Senator Gopal and others, our district has seen an increase in state aid of more than $3 million dollars over the past two years. Just this year we increased our percentage of state aid from 45 percent to 58 percent. Because of this extra aid, we were able to hire 11 more teachers for the coming school year, thus significantly lowering our class sizes and allowing us to put a teacher in each of the new classrooms currently under construction. We were delighted to show Senate President Sweeney and Senator Gopal our progress and thank them in person for all their efforts on our behalf.”
The current state budget increases school aid by $347 million, continuing the ramp-up to full funding led by Senator Sweeney last year. School districts in 17 of New Jersey’s 21 counties will receive a net increase in funding in the upcoming school year, delivering increases for school districts that educate 72 percent of the state’s schoolchildren.