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Benson Bill to Allow Extra Reserve, Provide Greater Financial Flexibility to School Districts for 2020-2021 Academic Year Clears Committee

As schools seek greater financial flexibility to be able to meet an evolving set of needs during the coronavirus pandemic, the Assembly Education Committee approved legislation on Monday that would give schools more budgetary leeway during the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.
The bill (A-4310) would allow any sources of miscellaneous revenues, attributed to the financial impacts of COVID-19, to be included in anticipated revenue for the 2021 calendar or fiscal year budget of a local unit. It would also provide that a school district can maintain an undesignated four percent of its budgeted general fund, which can be put towards and transferred across categories without approval.
Bill sponsor Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) released the following statement:
“The coronavirus pandemic has created unforeseeable complexities and constraints on schools’ financial resources. As the pandemic and guidance evolves, schools are set to experience corresponding changes.
“Whether school buildings will be able to operate for in-person instruction, keep with their hybrid model or again need to implement virtual learning, the ability shift money to where it’s needed is critical. From covering the costs of more PPE, enhanced sanitizing, using more buses to accommodate social distancing, laptops or other devices, and everything in between, we cannot anticipate the exact need.
“By providing this financial tool to districts, one of many needed, we give them flexibility to better equip themselves for the unexpected.”