Given all the debate over what is indeed “full funding” of school aid in New Jersey, the state’s nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services has provided the latest estimate of what every district would receive under the school finance law in the best of circumstances.
But beware of sticker shock; the OLS estimates that 70 percent of all districts are underfunded by more than $2.2 billion, if the state were to meet its full obligations under its decade-old law. Meanwhile, the remaining districts are seeing $660 million in aid that exceeds the state formula, leaving a net of $1.5 billion.
The breakdown, released by the Senate majority office yesterday, is sure to fuel the push underway to rewrite Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposal for school aid in the next fiscal year, already a nearly $284 million increase.
Senate President Steve Sweeney — with what now appears to be a growing consensus in both chambers — has long advocated that the state start to move to meet the letter of the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, including the phasing out of caps that were added by the Legislature to deal with both sudden decreases and increases in aid.
The OLS estimate provides the numbers of what that would ultimately be needed for each district, both with and without the caps. And they are eye-opening to say the least, with some districts shown to be tens of millions of dollars under what the law dictates, and scores equally overfunded.
to see how your district would do if it were fully funded.
At a whopping $174 million over, Jersey City remains the poster child of districts receiving more aid from the state that the law would allow, taking into account what can be raised through the local property-tax base.
Five other districts listed as at least $20 million overfunded by the state are Freehold Regional, Pemberton, Asbury Park, Pemberton, and Brick.
On the flip side, more than 20 districts are receiving at least $20 million less than the law would require if fully funded without caps. They include large urban districts like Newark ($167 million under) and Elizabeth ($114 million), as well as suburban ones like Edison ($30.4 million), North Brunswick ($30.2 million), and Sayreville ($21.6 million).