State aid will increase for public school districts in Edison, Metuchen and Woodbridge.
The state’s proposed $19.2 billion for New Jersey pre-K to 12 schools for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget adds $649.8 million in K-12 formula aid to continue implementing the seven-year phase in to fully fund New Jersey’s school funding formula set forth in S-2.
This year marks year five of the plan. Gov. Phil Murphy called S-2 a seven-year catch up to sync monies to where demographics are in the state and restore funding to those districts which have been underfunded for years.
The total direct education funding aid is $9.9 billion, which will be distributed to districts across the state.
For the Edison Township Public School District, the district will receive $11.76 million or 33% more in state aid for the 2022-23 school year from $35.84 million to $47.60 million.
Without increases in school state aid over the past few years, the Edison Township Public School District would not be able to move forward with the $9 million addition at Lincoln Elementary School – expected to be completed and open by September – the implementation of full-day Kindergarten in the fall or provide relief to the local taxpayer, according to Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen.
“These increases have enabled our school district to dedicate monies to capital and building projects to upgrade facilities and provide relief to our community to the many overcrowding issues that we have,” he said. “These things would not have been possible without the increase in state aid support.”
Bragen said the financial support has also allowed the district to provide immediate relief to the taxpayers of Edison by decreasing the percentage of the budget that has to come from the tax levy.
“Most recently the increase in state aid last year allowed the Board of Education to go to a zero tax increase on the levy, that’s almost unheard of,” he said.
For the Metuchen School District, the district will receive $453,303, or 22.23%, more in state aid for the 2022-23 school year from $2.04 million to $2.49 million.
“The increase is state is great and appreciated,” Schools Superintendent Vincent Caputo said. “However, we are dealing with a 2% cap with inflation significantly higher than 2%. Increased state aid funds will be mostly used to offset the increasing prices above 2%.”
For the Woodbridge Township School District, the district will receive $20.31 million or 32.20% more in state aid for the 2022-23 school year from $63.08 million to $83.40 million.
Murphy, along with Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting education commissioner, highlighted the K-12 school aid plan at James Monroe Elementary School in Edison earlier this month.
He called the plan a win-win and essentially a “cold blooded strategy for economic development” having employees choose places with the best schools in America.
The proposal includes $20 million in stabilization aid to provide one time assistance for school districts to implement plans that adjust to new funding levels.
The fiscal year 2023 budget will continue to champion preschool expansion increasing preschool funding by nearly $68 million for a total of $991.8 million.
Some $28 million of the increased funding will support an increase per pupil funding for existing programs and ensure programs that expand this year can be made permanent and $40 million will be dedicated to new preschool programs.
The budget proposal expands high quality full day preschools to an additional 3,000 children in 40 communities.
New and continued initiatives in the proposed budget include $5 million to provide grants to support the implementation of climate change education; $2 million for implementation of reading acceleration and professional integrated development program to address learning loss; and $2 million for continuation of computer science for all initiative.
In addition, the proposed budget includes $4.5 million for supplemental wrap around program to support low-income families with before and after school care and $1.3 million to continue diversifying the teacher pipeline.
The budget also increases funding for school facility projects with a $350 million appropriation for districts to continue necessary enhancements to school facilities in order for the facilities to remain safe, healthy and conducive to achievement.
And the budget maintains $75 million to support capital maintenance projects and emergent needs for regular operating school districts and $5 million for charter schools.