Joining Beck today at the press conference and Assembly Budget Committee hearing were representatives from Freehold Borough, Red Bank, Monroe Twp., Kingsway Regional, Chesterfield, Robbinsville, Delran, Paulsboro, Rahway, and Swedesboro-Woolwich.
“We’ve long pushed for a fair share of state aid for school districts like Red Bank and Freehold Borough that have been massively underfunded year after year,” said Beck. “Today isn’t the first time we’ve brought parents, superintendents, and teachers from underfunded districts to Trenton to ask for fair funding, but it’s certainly the biggest. It should be noted that there are 46 districts that receive state aid in excess of what the School Funding Reform Act says they should get at a cost of more than $10 million,” Beck said. “At a minimum, it makes sense to look at re-distributing this $10 million.”
“That said, it’s not clear, that redistributing adjustment aid is going to be as uncomplicated as some have suggested since 97 of the 181 school Adjustment Aid Districts currently overpay in local property taxes for their schools, and 157 of those districts are also underfunded relative to what SFRA says they should get in state aid,” Beck added.
While changes are necessary to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 (SFRA), the state’s school funding formula, Beck said that immediate relief in the upcoming state budget is critically needed for underfunded districts if wholesale school funding reform cannot be accomplished prior to the budget’s adoption.
Included below are the full press conference remarks as prepared for delivery by Superintendent Rocco Tomazic (Freehold Borough), Superintendent James Lavender (Kingsway Regional), Superintendent Brian Brotschul (Delran Township), and Superintendent Jared Rumage (Red Bank Borough):
Lavender: “Thank you Senator Beck for having the courage to address the inequity in school funding allocations. Kingsway’s story is similar to the hundreds of underfunded districts throughout this state… We get 43% of what we are entitled; our student body has grown by 44% since the adoption of SFRA without corresponding increases in state aid; we are short dozens of teachers; and our residents are overtaxed. We are tired of the excuses and demand that every member of the legislature act now by eliminating the hold harmless adjustment aid used to punish the close to 400 public schools and lift the enrollment caps preventing state aid increases to the 100 school districts who have grown since the adoption of SFRA. These outdated and arbitrary budgetary measures, intended to be temporary in 2008, are now crippling the majority of our public schools. We call on the members of the legislature to put fairness before politics and fix this school funding fiasco before summer recess.”