N.J. lawmakers proposing committee to revamp school funding

New Jersey's  school aid formula has not been fully funded for years

New Jersey's school aid formula has not been fully funded for years

A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation that would create a commission to develop a school funding reform plan.

New Jersey’s current school aid formula has not been fully funded for years, said Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz.

“Everybody would love to run the formula at 100 percent. If it is something that deems to be impossible, let’s look to another solution to create some kind of equity,” said Ruiz, D-Essex.

But Osomo Thomas with the New Jersey Education Association, however, said he opposes the plan.  He fears Gov. Chris Christie could veto the proposed $500 million increase in school aid over five years to help districts transition to a new funding plan.

“If this bill becomes law and the school funding formula is rewritten, the governor could still fail to provide the additional aid that will be required to help districts cope with the changes,” Thomas said. “Kids will be hurt.”

The measure is not a school funding panacea, but it would create a mechanism to change the current formula, said Betsy Ginsburg, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.

“It simply opens the door for study, for consideration, and conversation about the way the formula operates today and how it might operate in the future,” she said. “In opening that door, it admits more light than we have seen in some time.”

To get around a possible veto by Christie, Democrats want to create the new commission through a legislative resolution that does not require his approval.

Christie has proposed his own plan to replace the school funding formula with an equal amount of aid per student in every district.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said the Legislature won’t move forward with that plan that would reduce current funding levels to poorer districts .

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