Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fighting The Good Fight For ALL Of Us; Oh, Yeah!

New Jersey State Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) continued the fight for a fair share of state school aid for massively underfunded school districts at today’s public budget hearing held by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee in Newark.

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Sen. Jennifer Beck was joined at today’s public state budget hearing by dozens of parents, superintendents and school officials who are united in calling for a fair share of state school aid for underfunded districts and permanent school funding reform. (SenateNJ.com)
Beck was joined by Freehold Borough Superintendent Dr. Rocco Tomazic, Freehold Borough Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer, Freehold Borough Education Foundation President Jean Holtz, as well as Red Bank Borough Superintendent Dr. Jared Rumage, Red Bank Board of Education President Dr. Fred Stone, and numerous parents from those districts.

“We have over 100 underfunded school districts that have seen significant enrollment growth without a corresponding state school aid increase, leading to substantial educational challenges.” Beck said “At the same time, approximately 200 school districts that are more than 10 percent above the funding standard continue to receive more state aid despite enrollment loss. This school funding disparity is a critical issue that the Legislature must address to protect both students and property taxpayers.”

For the 2016-2017 school year, Freehold Borough Schools were 572 students over capacity and funded 38 percent below adequacy. Similarly, Red Bank has had 22.9 percent enrollment growth over the past seven years, and is funded 34 percent below adequacy. Both districts have a student body where more than 75 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. Beck has worked extensively with underfunded school districts, including Red Bank and Freehold Borough, to secure additional state funding and permanent changes to the state school funding formula.

“Because we have been denied our fair share of available state aid, both of our districts are understaffed in teachers, overcrowded in classrooms, and filled with mostly at risk students being denied proper educational support” said Red Bank Superintendent Rumage. Freehold Borough Superintendent Tomazic continued, “Our goal is that when our students move on to their regional high schools, where they will sit side-by-side with their more affluent peers, that they will be competitive with their skills and will be confident of their academic abilities. It is on behalf of our students that we ask for their legally established fair share of resources.”

“This issue is larger than just Red Bank and Freehold Borough. With approximately 140 school districts more than ten percent below adequacy we must address the funding formula to ensure that districts with triple-digit enrollment growth don’t receive less funding than those losing enrollment.” Beck stated.

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