(TRENTON) – Senator Shirley K. Turner and Assembly members Reed Gusciora and Bonnie Watson Coleman (all D-Mercer/Hunterdon) on Monday criticized the Governor’s proposed changes to the school funding formula in New Jersey, which disproportionately affects Abbott districts like Trenton by further reducing their funding.
The administration’s new formula negatively impacts the Abbott districts by working outside the already established statute that bases school funding on student enrollment and “weights” for certain populations.
“Money is not going to solve all the issues in Trenton’s public schools, but we cannot even begin to make progress unless our classrooms are given the proper resources,” said Turner. “At-risk students require greater funding because of socio-economic factors and extraordinary educational needs. Trenton’s students finally scored a huge victory last week when they received approval for funding for building improvements to Trenton Central High School, but the educational funding rug has been pulled out from under them by taking money away from the classroom.”
“This new funding formula translates to less funding for a majority of the Abbott districts, which have already seen their funding slashed due to the Governor’s clear disregard for the poor and disadvantaged residents of this state,” said Gusciora. “I agree that money is not the only solution, but it certainly makes a difference in how schools are able to educate their students. Abbott districts are already at a disadvantage. This only pushes them back further.”
“It’s distressing how this administration can justify taking away more and more from school districts in most need of financial resources,” said Watson Coleman. “This new formula essentially targets the state’s poorer districts by reducing their funding. These districts must fight a myriad of social ills, on top of funding cuts, to educate their students. Reducing their means is not the way to help these districts, and certainly not the way to empower their students.”
According to a media report, of the state’s 31 Abbott districts, 23 will lose funding in the next school year. In all, the state’s 31 Abbott districts will see a reduction in aid of more than $24 million off the more than $4.4 billion they received in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the same media report. Under the Governor’s school funding proposal, the Trenton School District would get about a million less than what they received in last year’s budget.