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Poll: School Aid, School Aid — Is there a Way out of the Funding Maze?

The Democrats have unveiled their new plan. Should Christie go for it or walk away?

School funding is at the center of debate about New Jersey’s next state budget, and it’s time for decisions.

Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have proposed a plan that would boost school aid by $146 million for nearly 400 districts that have been underfunded for nearly a decade under the Christie administration. Another $25 million in state dollars would be allocated for pre-K education in select districts. At the same time, more than 100 school districts that are considered “overfunded” would also lose money under the plan, some significantly.

Gov. Chris Christie has never much liked how New Jersey funds public education, and has been pushing a plan that equalizes state funding to all districts, no matter the need. But he has also shown some flexibility of late, especially since he is seeking other concessions from the Democrats.

Now that the negotiations are in full swing, what do you think should happen?

  • Blow up the entire school-funding formula and start again. School aid is a third of the state budget, it is heavily weighted to urban districts, and it is not showing enough results.

  • Christie should stick it out and at least win some concessions for redistributing state aid to a broader cross-section of districts.

  • The Democrats’ proposal isn’t perfect, but given the state’s limited budget resources, it’s a good start to restoring fairness to school funding.

  • State lawmakers should approve the increases but resist any attempts to cut funding to school districts, especially with school budgets already in place.

  • No compromises: The state should fully fund the formula by all means necessary, even if it means higher taxes.

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