NJ education advocates fear budget leaves school children behind

 New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

As New Jersey lawmakers hold public hearings on Governor Christie’s budget plan, groups and organizations from around the state are appealing for more money. They face steep odds this year.

New Jersey Education Association president Wendell Steinhauer is concerned that the proposed budget does not increase state aid for the vast majority of school districts.

“While the governor says flat funding of state school aid will hold districts harmless, state PARCC testing mandates, rising insurance costs, and a strict budget cap will cause real, irreversible harm through the loss of essential programs, services, and opportunities for our students,” Steinhauer said.

Mary Coogan is assistant director at Advocates for Children of New Jersey. She says all the attention on state pension funding and how to replenish the transportation trust fund means the needs of thousands of children are being placed on the budgetary back burner.

“While roads and bridges are important to the economic health of our state, so is health and development of our children, a critical infrastructure that is also in a state of disrepair,” Coogan said. “As more New Jersey families struggle to make ends meet, we continue to erode the supports for families and their children.”

The president of the New Jersey Education Association told the Assembly Budget Committee that flat state funding for most school districts means they could have to cut some programs and services.

Representatives of environment, health care, housing, and children’s groups also made their case for more funds, but lawmakers say increases are highly unlikely.

Lawmakers are trying to determine where they might make changes in the governor’s spending plan.

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