South Brunswick schools face $8 million cut in state aid over time

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The South Brunswick School District is facing a decrease of $8 million in state aid.

“When the new funding formula was implemented, South Brunswick actually received over $1 million in increased aid. At that time the valuation of the town was approximately $8.6 billion. In the next year, the valuation of the town increased to approximately $9.9 billion. It is this valuation, that when plugged into the formula, caused the currently received schedule of decreased aid,” Superintendent of Schools Scott Feder said.

Feder said the aid will be reduced over time.

“If the aid was to be taken all at once, the cuts to programming would be substantial to the point of [being] detrimental to student learning. However, this is not happening, so we will be taking one year at a time and evaluating all aspects of the district expenditures. What I can say with certainty is that we will look for ways to maintain the most important functions, while always looking to reduce spending while not [reducing] services to our students and families,” Feder explained.

The superintendent said the district will “have some tightening to do” but plans to move forward with “transparency and honesty and an intelligent calculated approach.”

“We will be watching the valuation very closely and work with the township whenever possible. One area of aid is called extraordinary aid. In the last two years, we have increased the district state aid in this category from about $600,000 in the 2016-17 school year to $1.2 million this year. This is due to the business office and Special Education office working together to maximize all possibilities. Also, we are looking and supporting a movement to increase Title IIA funding to the district. Recently, we prepared and delivered testimony in [Washington] D.C. to accomplish this exact thing. We hope to see the federal government increase aid in this category by 25%,” he said.

Feder said the new funding formula actually benefits the district, but the issue relates to the valuation increase of $1.3 billion in one year.

“The message is that we have a Board of Education who has been masterful in managing two important factors: student learning and fiscal responsibility. We will continue to do just that and make decisions for the betterment of the community, which includes maintaining a high performing world class school system while managing taxes. We will continue to look for places to save, without losing the best of what we do for kids,” he said.

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