Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Governor Christie Proposes Equal Funding for All School Districts

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Governor Christie is proposing equal funding for all school districts in a sweeping effort to alter what he calls an "unaffordable and broken" education-funding formula "propped up by special interests and Supreme Court justices who got it wrong." The new plan, he said, would lower property tax bills and "end the disgrace of failed urban education." 

Under the proposed Fairness Formula, which he announced Tuesday afternoon at Hillsborough High School, each public school district would receive $6,599 per enrolled student — a figure arrived at by taking the $9.1 billion spent by the state today and dividing it among every K-12 student in New Jersey. 

Aid for special education would not be changed, according to the governor’s office.
That is a stark difference from the current formula under the School Funding Reform Act, which uses a weighted formula to determine how much money the state sends to districts.

Christie has for years strongly criticized that school-funding formula as unfair and fiscally irresponsible by pouring billions of tax dollars into underperforming districts and contributing to the state’s famously high property taxes. He did so again Tuesday, saying “failure is still the rule, not the exception” in districts where the state has spent nearly $100 billion the last 30 years in more than two dozen school districts where the graduate rates are well below the state average of 90 percent.
“It’s an immoral waste of the hard-earned money of the people of New Jersey,” Christie said. “We accept subpar performance and we pay a fortune for it.”

“Over and over again we see the same issue:  money spent without results for the families we are meant to serve,” Christie said. The current formula he added, “is failing families and their children.  It is bankrupting our state. It is driving families from their homes and New Jersey.”

Christie often says he could fix the inequity if only he had a Republican Legislature. The plan he was set to unveil Tuesday would likely have to go through the Democratic-led Legislature, which is pursuing its own reforms in a five-year plan to “address growing disparities in school funding throughout the state.”

Christie said his plan “is not a budget-cutting proposal,” but a “reallocation” of state aid.
He said his plan would provide “tax fairness” and provide better public education. Seventy-five percent of school districts would get more aid under his proposal, he said.

North Jersey towns stand to benefit, according to Christie. Under his proposal Fair Lawn would get an extra 815 percent in aid, while Teaneck would get 389 percent more and Wood-Ridge would get an additional 800 percent. That increase in state aid, he said would mean a drop in the average property tax bill of between $1,600 and $2,200 in those towns.

“All over the state, we slay the dragon of property taxes by implementing the Fairness Formula,” Christie said. “For the first time in anyone’s memory, property taxes plummeting not rising.  And all through valuing each child and their hopes, dreams and potential the same.
Christie said he will tour the state this summer to sell the proposal, which may be the last major policy battle he wages with Democrats before leaving office in January 2018.

Some Comparisons Across Hudson County (TGES estimates

2015-16 Budgeted Costs Amount Per Pupil
Weehawken: $13,925
2015-16 Budgeted Costs Rank Within Group (K-12/0-1800) Per Pupil: 
Weehawken: 15/49 

2015-16 Budgeted Costs Amount Per Pupil
Hoboken City: $23,250
2015-16 Budgeted Costs Rank Within Group (K-12/1801) Per Pupil: 
Hoboken City: 68/69 

2015-16 Budgeted Costs Amount Per Pupil
North Bergen: $13,305
2015-16 Budgeted Costs Rank Within Group (K-12/3501+) Per Pupil: 
North Bergen: 18/103

Full State List: Click here 

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