EAST BRUNSWICK–With Gov. Phil Murphy releasing 2021-22 state aid numbers for school districts, Superintendent Victor Valeski addressed the impact of funding for the East Brunswick Public School District.
The proposed FY2022 budget provides $578 million in additional K-12 school aid and nearly $50 million in additional preschool funding. When paired with additional investments in Extraordinary Special Aid and stabilization aid, the FY2022 budget increases school funding by $700 million, according to a prepared statement from Gov. Phil Murphy’s Office dated Feb. 25.
Murphy’s four budgets will have increased direct pre-K through 12 spending statewide by nearly $1.5 billion.
School districts will be able to use state funds in conjunction with federal resources to address COVID-19-related learning loss, stand up mental health programs, train educators and remediate buildings, among other uses, according to the statement.
For Kindergarten to grade 12 state aid during the 2021 fiscal year, the East Brunswick Public Schools District will receive $20,584,897. The district will receive $1,491,445 for transportation aid, $5,355,986 for special education aid, and $176,418 for security aid, according to information provided by the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE).
For the 2022 fiscal year, the school district will receive $25,892,000, which is a $5,307,103 increase compared to the 2021 fiscal year, according to information provided by the DOE.
“Our equalization aid consists of two components: the recapture of state aid that is now being restored since the dramatic educational cuts in 2010-11; and, the amount of additional state aid resulting from the governor’s proposed increase of aid to education,” Valeski said. “We continue to be thankful and appreciative of Murphy’s commitment to restoring and expanding educational funding.”
Valeski said the Board of Education had already committed a substantial amount of funding to build and sustain a technological bridge between teachers and students.
“By doing so, we were prepared to move to a remote instructional environment one year ago because we had the technology and infrastructure to support and sustain that shift,” Valeski said. “We will continue to support instructional technology and infrastructure investments in anticipation of future educational adaptations that can enhance every student’s experience in East Brunswick Public Schools.”
Valeski said the township has been underfunded for many years, and it has been a long road toward recovering from the massive $7.9 million cut in FY2011. At the time, state aid was cut roughly $5 million and the district was forced to reallocate nearly $1.3 million to fund a charter school. As a result, programs and services were drastically cut and approximately 100 employees were let go.
“Since then, the district has been saddled with the annual allocation of district resources to fund a charter school that was not needed in East Brunswick. For FY2022 alone, that is more than $3.6 million of the district’s budget for which we have no say,” Valeski said.
Additionally, Valeski said last year, after the district’s budget was approved, its state aid was reduced from $21,892,774 to $20,237,359 as it entered the beginning of the pandemic. The more than $1.65 million difference was bridged by one-time adjustments in order to keep the district moving while enduring a pandemic. Some of those adjustments required the abolishment of some positions.
“Finally, the district has been informed of a state aid increase for FY2022 and of which $420,712 of that increase must be budgeted for charter schools; however, there can be no dispute that, in the absence of the restoration state aid, the district would otherwise be facing another wave of cuts that would hinder or diminish essential academic and student support services,” Valeski said.
Valeski said having restored additional state resources are critical to supporting the township’s return to full operation for all students.
“All while maintaining safe and healthy environments in all schools, as well as providing essential academic, social and emotional support for our students and their families throughout our complete recovery from the pandemic and, for what we envision, many years beyond,” Valeski said.
For more information, visit www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562021/approved/20210225a.shtml or www.state.nj.us/education/stateaid/2122/.
Contact Vashti Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.