Trenton – The Senate Budget Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney to provide cap relief for districts that are facing Adjustment Aid cuts and spending below the adequacy level deemed necessary under the state’s school funding law to provide the “thorough and efficient” education guaranteed under the New Jersey Constitution.
“This legislation will provide cap relief to school districts facing Adjustment Aid cuts that are spending below adequacy and not providing the Local Fair Share required under the school funding formula,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland).
“It will ensure that students do not suffer in districts that are now taking cuts after receiving more than their fair share of state aid for more than a decade,” Senator Sweeney said. “The new law will give districts the ability to make up for past years when they had no incentive to provide their Local Fair Share because the Adjustment Aid windfall they were getting gave them no reason to do so.”
The Sweeney bill parallels the cap relief provisions provided to former Abbott districts under S2, the 2018 school funding reform law sponsored by Senator Sweeney. The law restored fairness to state school aid by eliminating the growth cap that limited aid to underfunded districts with rising enrollments while phasing out adjustment aid to districts for students who are no longer there.
Under the bill, S-4289, 40 districts that are currently spending below adequacy, facing state aid cuts and taxing below their Local Fair Share as determined by the state school funding formula would be allowed to exceed the 2% cap by school board vote, but only to bring their school funding level up to adequacy.
Four-fifths of districts facing adjustment aid cuts are spending above adequacy levels and would still be required to go to the voters for any increase above 2%.
Senator Sweeney said the legislation grew out of a meeting last spring with Senator Sam Thompson (R-Middlesex/Ocean), his 12th District Assembly colleagues and Old Bridge school officials about the need for cap relief. Senator Thompson is co-prime sponsor of the bill, and Old Bridge is one of the districts that would benefit.
The legislation was developed in consultation with the New Jersey School Boards Association and other education groups.