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Benson & Houghtaling Bill to Provide Greater Financial Flexibility to School Districts Now Law

(TRENTON) – As schools seek greater financial flexibility to be able to meet an evolving set of needs during the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Phil Murphy on Monday signed legislation to give schools more budgetary leeway during the current and upcoming academic years.

The new law (previously A-4310) provides that for the 2020-2021 and 2021- 2022 school years, school districts may maintain a surplus of four percent of the budgeted general fund expenses for the prior year. Previously, school districts could only maintain a surplus of two percent.

The law’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) released the following joint statement:

“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented complexities and constraints on schools’ financial resources. As we look towards recovery from the pandemic, schools are set to experience unpredictable changes.

“Whether school districts are conducting in-person, hybrid or virtual instruction, the ability to use money where it’s needed most is essential. From covering the costs of PPE, enhanced sanitization, buses to accommodate social distancing, laptops and everything in between, we cannot anticipate every need.

“By providing this financial flexibility to districts, along with other tools, we make our schools more resilient and stronger in their educational mission.”