Trenton – In an effort to help stave off dramatic planned cuts in State school aid in districts across the state, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Andrew Zwicker that would appropriate an additional nearly $103 million in restorative funding for the coming school year.
“The planned funding cuts would have put dozens of school districts in a bind, forcing them to make difficult, rushed decisions and drastic cuts to personnel and programs. Now is not the time for such uncertainty, nor the time for districts to be asked to do with less at the precise moment they are trying to recover some sense of normalcy,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth), Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “This restoration will buy these districts some time, and help them set course on a brighter future.”
Under the bill, districts slated for cuts in aid under the school funding reform act known as S-2 (signed into law in 2018) would be allowed to receive an additional amount of State school aid in the 2023-2024 school year that is equal to 66 percent of the difference between the amount of formula aid received in the 2022-2023 school year and the amount of formula aid proposed for the 2023-2024 school year.
“New Jersey’s outstanding public schools are considered the best in the country, yet every year we are asking some of these districts to make devastating and fully unexpected cuts that would increase class size, cut essential programs, and result in educators across the state losing their jobs,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “Today’s solution will ensure the quality of education for all New Jersey students continues this year while we work on a systemic solution for future years.”
To receive the additional aid, a school district would need to submit to the state Commissioner of Education a written plan explaining how the district will allocate these funds and how it intends to fund operations in future school years in which the district does not receive supplemental funding.
The bill, S-3732, would take effect immediately but would remain inoperative until the enactment into law of the fiscal year 2024 appropriations act.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0.