I wanted to share a copy of my testimony to the NJ Legislature this week. Please log on to (http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/15budget/default.asp) and register for an opportunity to testify for the Department of Education to run the school funding formula. I’d be happy to help you write your testimony.
Gov. Christie is breaking the law. Tell him to fund the formula. The New Jersey School Funding Reform Act of 2008, the State’s school aid formula, ensures adequate and equitable school funding for each child on the basis of individual need, regardless of where that child lives. Continued underfunding of the New Jersey School Funding Reform Act of 2008 has resulted in cuts to vital educational programs and services in schools in Paterson and throughout the state.
My message is simple. Please adhere to the law and fund the School Funding Reform Act. Demand that the Department of Education run the formula and allocate funding based on its calculations. It’s your formula and it’s the law of the State of New Jersey. The NJ Legislature passed the School Funding Reform Act into law in 2008. SFRA was upheld by the NJ Supreme Court with a specific directive that it should be fully funded for the poorest districts. It has never been fully funded since the first year of implementation. Now this Budget proposes to fund schools with no reference to the formula as if it doesn’t even exist.
NJ public schools saw $5 billion in underfunding over the last 5 years. Kids have seen their class sizes increase because teachers had to be laid off. Classes are under resourced because they can’t afford the necessary supplies. Kids lost music and arts and language classes as well as sports teams and instructional aides. Essential programming has been cut. Parents saw increased fees for extracurricular activity or busing. If the budget passes as presented, Paterson Public Schools will once again be underfunded by $50 Million. More and more is being demanded of our children and our schools, and all these demands bring an increased price tag.
This is the same testimony I brought you last year. I had hoped to share some updated numbers but they are not available from the Department of Education. It would be interesting to find out if anyone even bothered to run the formula. I strongly urge you, the New Jersey State Legislature, to follow the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 in the FY15 State Budget and provide all New Jersey schoolchildren with adequate and equitable school funding. Please make every effort to protect the School Funding Reform Act and oppose attempts to reduce the equity and adequacy of the SFRA to the detriment of all NJ schoolchildren.
The children of NJ need you to be on their side. Please don’t fail them.