Additional school aid may help provide relief from overcrowding in Edison


EDISON — With an additional $3.5 million in state aid available for the 2018-19 school year, Edison School District officials are putting the funds toward the district’s capital reserve account, or what Board of Education President Jerry Shi likes to call the “overcrowding bucket.”

On July 30, board members approved the transfer of the additional state aid funds into the capital reserve account. The board has a capital reserve account to fund capital projects, including facility expansion projects.

For the 2017-18 school year, $15.49 million in state aid was allocated to the school district.

Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s initial proposal in March, Edison’s state aid for 2018-19 was expected to total $16.26 million – an increase of $770,000 from the previous year.

After negotiations with legislative leaders, Murphy signed a bill into law that changed the allocation of state aid for New Jersey’s schools and increased Edison’s state aid for 2018-19 to $19.76 million – a $3.5 million increase over the amount that district administrators were initially told.

The revised state aid figures were announced on July 13.

“We are always trying to build up a balance, or what Mr. Shi calls ‘the bucket,’ ” Business Administrator Dan Michaud said. “It is actually our capital reserve account for additions to schools we desperately need, and this $3.5 million would help a lot toward those additions.”

During the past year, school district administrators and Edison municipal officials have joined forces to address the issue of student overcrowding.

When Shi became board president in January, his first order of business was to create a task force that would examine student overcrowding and make recommendations about how to address the issue.

“Overcrowding is the most significant challenge that has reached a crisis level and requires immediate action,” Shi said at the time.

Board member Ralph Errico co-chairs the task force with Township Council President Ajay Patil. School board members Shannon Peng, Richard Brescher and Falguni Patel are also on the task force.

The Edison School District has two high schools, four middle schools, nine elementary schools, one intermediate school, one primary school and it operates a preschool program.