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March 22, 2019

According to a new report by the Education Law Center, the 2018-2019 budgets of 23, or over two-thirds, of New Jersey’s 31 urban “Abbott” school districts are below the state’s “adequacy” level. This means that, despite recent updates to the school funding formula, they do not have enough funding to provide their students with a “thorough and efficient” education as required under the state constitution.

The ELC found the total funding gap for those districts comes to more than $1 billion, because of what it says are “shortfalls in both state aid and local property tax revenue, as required by the SFRA formula.”

Abbott districts enroll approximately 20 percent of all public school students statewide and a large share of New Jersey’s low-income students (40 percent), English Language Learners (54 percent), and African-American and Latino students (40 percent).

Sharon Krengel, the ELC’s outreach director said in a statement that “Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed FY20 State Budget … fails to make much headway towards addressing the growing underfunding of Abbott districts.” This is even though Murphy’s budget proposal includes a state aid increase for all districts — approximately $200 million in additional appropriations. Krengel said that amount “barely scratches the surface of the state aid required to close the adequacy gap in the Abbott districts.”

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