The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) is reporting that relief could be in sight for school districts that are losing state aid under legislation known as S-2.
The NJSBA reported in a May 1 press release that New Jersey Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said he believes the state’s education funding formula under the School Funding Reform Act works, but that fiscal distress in certain districts would have to be addressed.
A group of New Jersey school districts – including the Freehold Regional High School District, the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District and the Jackson School District – are pursuing legal action against the New Jersey Department of Education because they have received and are expected to continue to receive reductions in their state school funding through the 2024-25 school year.
The NJSBA reported that New Jersey Commissioner Lamont Repollet testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on April 30 about the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 state budget for the Department of Education.
The association reported that Sarlo “asked about the impact of adjustment aid reductions.”
In response, Repollet said the department had been meeting with individual districts and county superintendents to review district reserves, surplus amounts and performance measures to determine individual districts’ relative fiscal health as a precursor to considering one-time emergency aid, according to the press release.
The NJSBA said Repollet explained that multiple factors determined the state aid reductions, which affect approximately one-third of the state’s school districts. These factors include enrollment declines and changes in income or property wealth.
The proposed budget also reflects legislation enacted last year that would increase funding to approximately two-thirds of the state’s school districts to their full state aid entitlements over the next six years.
Several senators addressed the underfunding of special education, specifically the costs of extraordinary placements. The department has said extraordinary costs are funded at just above 50% of actual costs, with the balance falling on local districts, according to the press release.