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Senator Gill Heralds Near-Abbott School Aid Bill Being Signed Into Law

TRENTON – A bill co-sponsored by Senator Nia Gill that will increase state aid to school districts bordered by three or more Abbott school districts and will provide $3.3 million in extra State assistance to Clifton in her district was signed into law over the weekend by Governor Codey.

“Clifton faces extraordinary hardships, and this new law recognizes that if a school district looks like an Abbott, acts like an Abbott, and is bordered by at least three Abbotts, it obviously needs help,” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic. “With this additional State assistance, Clifton will have the necessary funds to provide quality educational opportunities for the city’s youth.”

The bill, S-2558, will create a new category of State aid for school districts that fit certain criteria. The additional aid will be appropriated to school districts that are bordered by three or more Abbott districts if the district meets one or more of the following criteria: a) the district’s per pupil cost was less than the average per pupil cost for the Abbott districts; b) the district had a student mobility rate of 10% or greater; c) 35% or more of the district’s students were eligible for free or reduced price meals under the federal school lunch program; d) 15% or more of the district’s classrooms had a class size of 30 or more students; and e) the per capita personal income of the residents of the school district was $19,000 or less.

Under the bill, the Clifton school district would receive $3.3 million in operational aid for Fiscal Year 2006. Other municipalities that will benefit from the new law include Bayonne, North Bergen, Weehawken and Hillside.

“Clifton has been trying to make due while battling the effects of economic distress and trying to meet its obligation to educate our young, but the pressures are becoming too great to bear,” said Senator Gill. “Without a helping hand from the State, Clifton faces the possibility of becoming an Abbott-designated district itself. We need to give the local officials the aid they need to avoid that, and to fulfill their mission of providing an excellent education to Clifton’s students.”

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