Parents, educators and school administrators came out in force for the first public hearing of the Senate Budget Committee yesterday — and placed the focus firmly on school funding, or the inadequacy thereof in New Jersey.
Jill DiMaio, said that “flat funding for the past seven years” has hurt her school district, Monroe Township, Middlesex County and she wants funding to be increased. She was followed by a stream of advocates, each outlining funding difficulties.
“Something needs to be done for our district and done quickly. I don’t know how we’re going to survive much longer,” said Ridgefield Park School District Superintendent Eric Koenig.
“Over the past eight years, Paterson’s education budget has been underfunded by $272 million. That’s not to include this year’s underfunding,” said Rosie Grant of the Paterson Education Fund.
“Our districts would not be in the dire straits we are today if state aid were readjusted — taking funds away from districts overfunded in state aid and reallocating to those who are underfunded,” said Freehold Borough Public Schools Superintendent Rocco Tomazic.
Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo acknowledged that “clearly school funding is beginning to be the big topic.” Sarlo said he believes the governor and the Legislature can update the funding formula so that it reflects enrollment growth, and fully fund it for the first time in nine years.
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