$9 billion N.J. school-funding plan may fall short, education advocates say

A school-funding plan faced some criticism during a public hearing on New Jersey’s proposed $32.9 billion state budget.

Gov. Chris Christie’s budget plan boosts education aid to a record of nearly $9 billion.

Susan Cauldwell of Save Our Schools, a volunteer organization of public school supporters, urged lawmakers to allocate school aid based on the state’s school-funding formula.

“The proposed budget would underfund nearly 95 percent of all school districts despite the fact that this formula is the law in the state,” she said.

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State Sen. Jen Beck (R-Monmouth) says fully funding the formula isn’t going to happen.

“We passed it in 2008 and then the following the year, it wasn’t funded because nobody could afford the formula,” said Beck. “It’ll never be funded.”

Without more aid, some residents say they’re concerned schools will have to cut more programs and staff.

On the other hand, Jill DeMaio of Monroe Township says senior citizens are burdened by property taxes that provide much of the school funding.

“They’re desperate. They really are. I mean they pull out line items from the budget of $15,000, $30,000, and that won’t give them any type of relief,” she testified Tuesday before the Senate Budget Committee. “Some of them have had to sell their homes and move back in with their families.”

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