• NJ school districts have been underfunded by a total of $5 billion since FY2010. That number will reach $6 billion in 2014-15.
• This underfunding has led to a record number of “under adequacy” school districts as defined by the SFRA; “under adequacy” districts do not have the resources to provide a “thorough and efficient” education to their students.
• Expansion of high quality preschool to serve all at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds in the state is a hallmark of the SFRA, but the expansion program has never received any funding.
• In 2013-14, NJ school districts must implement new teacher and principal evaluation systems, new Common Core standards, and new online PARCC tests associated with the new standards — all of which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars [Click here for information on how Common Core and Tenure Reform will affect school funding.]
• School districts face increasing costs for special education, and state and federal funding to districts for special education students is not provided at the levels mandated by law.
•Governor Christie’s proposed FY2015 State Budget does not provide school districts with the state school aid to which they are entitled under the SFRA. Instead, school districts are slated to receive a meager increase of $20 per student.
• The NJ Legislature must pass a state budget by June 30, 2014. Parents, educators, community members, and education advocates and organizations are urging legislators to increase aid to schools to stop program and staff cuts, provide resources for unfunded mandates such as the PARCC tests, and get NJ back on track to full funding under the SFRA.
• Legislators must allocate funds for preschool expansion, which is a crucial part of the SFRA that has never been funded.
WHAT WE CAN DO
Advocates need to do all we can to make sure that legislators are aware of the following:
• NJ school districts need adequate resources to provide a high quality education for all students, especially in light of unfunded mandates.
• The SFRA enjoys broad support across the state.
• For the good of all NJ students the formula must be protected, and aid must be provided to school districts in accordance with it.
• Advocates understand the state’s current financial position and view the school funding formula in that light, but also support sound recommendations to increase state revenue.
• Advocates support a level of state aid in the FY15 state budget that respects the SFRA and puts all NJ school districts back on a path to full formula funding.