Dem lawmakers seeking more equitable appraoch to N.J. school funding

Some Democrats in New Jersey's Legislature are proposing a commission to recommend how to bring all districts to full finding under the state's school aid formula within five years. (Zurijeta/Bigstock)

Some Democrats in New Jersey's Legislature are proposing a commission to recommend how to bring all districts to full finding under the state's school aid formula within five years. (Zurijeta/Bigstock)

Some Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature want to create a special commission to develop a more equitable school-funding plan.

The proposed Schools Funding Fairness Commission would recommend ways to bring all districts to full finding under the state’s school aid formula within five years.

That would provide relief for districts that have suffered from harsh budget cuts and severe overcrowding, said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, D-Monmouth.

“Aid, as a whole, no longer bears any relationship to what the school districts should be receiving under the school-funding format,” she said. “And state aid growth limits are out of touch with districts that have faced enrollment spikes.”

Children and property taxpayers are being shortchanged because of inequities in state aid, said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“We have some school districts that are receiving three times the amount of aid that they should be, and some towns that are receiving one-third of the aid that they should be,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “This means that some towns are paying 50 percent more in property taxes than they should be, and some are paying 50 percent less.”

To prevent the kind of deals Sweeney said caused problems with the current funding formula, the commission’s recommendations would go to a vote in the Legislature without allowing amendments.

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