West Windsor – Senate President Steve Sweeney announced today he will be introducing legislation to provide cap relief for districts that are facing Adjustment Aid cuts.
“I will be introducing legislation that will provide cap relief to school districts facing Adjustment Aid cuts,” Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland) said at a meeting of the New Jersey School Boards Association’s Delegate Assembly.
“We need to 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 school boards in these 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.”
Senator Sweeney stressed that the cap relief bill does not change his commitment to phase out Adjustment Aid by the 2023-24 school year and to ramp up to full funding of the School Funding Reform Act for underfunded districts.
“The School Funding Reform Act of 2008 created a fair formula that adjusts each year to allocate state aid based on a district’s property and income wealth, and its enrollment, including the numbers of ‘at risk’ and English Language Limited students,” Senator Sweeney said. “S-2 created a phase-in schedule to fair funding, and we are not going back on our commitment.
“New Jersey’s public schools are ranked the best in the country, but many schools throughout the state do not receive the appropriate funding required to live up to our reputation,” Senator Sweeney said. “Statewide, 342 districts are underfunded by $1.7 billion and are paying $536 million more in property taxes than called for by the school funding formula. At the same time, 228 districts are overfunded by $659 million. Fairness requires us to move forward to fix that inequity”
Senator Sweeney also made a case to the School Boards Association on the educational and fiscal benefits of consolidating school districts throughout the state into K-12 regional districts or countywide districts. He advocated passage of his Path to Progress plan to shift all public employees from Platinum to Gold-level healthcare plans comparable to those offered by the state’s private sector employers.
Today’s NJSBA Delegate Assembly was one of the twice-yearly meetings that set the policies that determine the NJSBA’s position on educational issues, establish bylaws that govern its operations, and elect the NJSBA’s officers.
“We genuinely appreciate Senate President Sweeney’s willingness to communicate with the state’s local boards of education on critical financial and policy issues facing public schools,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. “The dialogue at our delegates’ meeting should provide an important perspective for our members and for the Senate President.”
(Photo Attached: Senate President Steve Sweeney addresses the meeting of the New Jersey School Boards Association’s Delegate Assembly)