(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) released the following statement Friday on today’s school funding hearing:
“I’m pleased to see the Senate today follow in the Assembly’s footsteps and convene a public hearing on issues related to school funding in New Jersey. I value all debate and input on this important topic for our state’s future.
“While I welcome Senate President Sweeney’s recognition that we must review school funding in New Jersey, I do caution all involved not to approach it with preconceived outcomes. After all, what’s the point of a hearing if you’ve already decided the outcome? It wouldn’t be helpful to ask people to take time to attend a hearing if you’ve already decided the result.
“I haven’t come to an agreement on any school funding solution, which is a good thing at this moment. I’m open to anything other than the governor’s plan. I’ve been very clear that I have not predetermined what I think our education funding formula should be, and I want us to hear from the stakeholders and the public.
“The existing statutory school funding formula – the School Reform Act of 2008 – provides a solid foundation. SFRA was the first school funding plan deemed constitutional by the New Jersey Supreme Court in nearly 30 years of attempts. The main problem with the SFRA has been the state’s failure to fund it, but that does not mean it doesn’t need tweaking or revision.
“No part of the current school funding formula should be off limits. Any real look at school funding would look at all problems and issues that have arisen, as well as demographic changes and changes in the fiscal conditions of school districts. We need a comprehensive review and comprehensive recommendations, and we also must focus on improving special education and preschool opportunities.
“Most of all, right now, we need an honest school funding debate free of grandstanding and rhetoric. The public deserves an open discussion – without preconceived outcomes – on what’s best for our children and taxpayers.”
The next Assembly Education Committee school funding hearing is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Bergen County Administration Building’s Freeholder Public Meeting Room on the 5th Floor of One Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack.