‘Formula4Success’ Is A ‘Realistic & Achievable Plan To Bring Every NJ District To Full Funding
NEWARK – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz conducted a forum on their plan to reform the state’s school funding formula to bring every district in New Jersey to full funding, closing the gap that now shortchanges 80 percent of the school systems.
Today’s roundtable discussion, a continuation of a statewide schedule of public forums on a plan that is “realistic and achievable,” brought together members of the NJ Association of School Administrators and top school officials from communities in Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Union and Bergen counties to discuss the five-year plan that would increase state aid by $100 million annually.
The failure of the state to fund the school formula has shortchanged all types of school districts, including those in suburban, urban and rural districts, Senator Sweeney said.
“Fully funding the system gives every district what it deserves and what it should be receiving,” said Senator Sweeney. “Our goal is make sure every child in this state has the opportunity for a quality education that will give them the knowledge to succeed. This is a realistic and achievable plan that would have the state live up to the promise of full and equitable funding.”
“Students across the state deserve access to a quality education and that means providing adequate funding for every child. We have a plan that will bring all schools to 100 percent of adequacy, providing districts with the resources they need to give students a strong foundation for academic success,” said Senator Ruiz. “This is a responsible proposal that will dedicate critical funding to districts across the state which will help them to stabilize their budgets.”
Also participating in the forum were Michael Jordan, Superintendent, Maywood; Anthony Grieco, Superintendent , River Vale; Rory McCourt, Superintendent, Elmwood Park; Michael Polizzi, Superintendent, New Milford; Michael Sawicz, Business Administrator, New Milford; Patricia Blood ,Superintendent, Kearny; Rui Dionisio, Superintendent, Verona; Gina Coffaro, Superintendent, Oakland; Erie Koenig, Superintendent, Ridgefield Park; Donald Sternberg, Business Administrator, North Plainfield; Ronald Lee, Superintendent, City of Orange; Dr. Hackett, Superintendent, Irvington; Anna Belin-Pyles, Superintendent, Plainfield; Steven Gardberg, Business Administrator, Prospect Park.
“The Association of School Administrators supports this legislation and applauds Senators Sweeney and Ruiz for their leadership and a long overdue analysis of the school funding system,” said Melanie Schulz, of the NJ ASA.
The legislation S-2372, which would create a special commission to develop a school funding reform plan, has already been approved by the Senate Education Committee. The Senate plan would bring all districts to full funding within five years with a boost of $100 million annually.
The commission will put the plan into legislation that will have to be approved or rejected in its existing form with up or down votes by the Legislature.
Under the proposed legislation, a four-member “State School Funding Fairness Commission” would be established and given one year to develop a plan that would bring every school district in the state to “adequacy funding” within five years. The administration would appoint two commissioners and the Senate President and Assembly Speaker would choose one each, according to the bill.
Eight years ago, the School Funding Reform Act promised adequate funding to offer equal educational opportunities for all of New Jersey’s schoolchildren, offering to make real the constitutional promise of a “thorough and efficient” education for every school and each child. The idea behind the law was that money would follow the child and that school aid would be handed out fairly and equitably statewide based on a formula that took into account each municipality’s property tax base, its ability to pay, increases and decreases in enrollment and any special needs of the children. Unfortunately, the promise has not been kept.
This is a plan to deliver on the promise. This may be an ambitious plan – but it is realistic and the goal is within our reach, Senator Sweeney said.
Formula4Success: Access the interactive website with detailed information on the School Funding Reform Plan and its impact on every school district in New Jersey by clicking: here.