Governor Chris Christie today released aid figures for New Jersey school districts based on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget proposal which is the largest appropriation of state education dollars in New Jersey history. This includes $7.8 billion in K-12 formula aid, an increase of $135 million over last year and part of $213 million in additional state funding for education over Fiscal Year 2012. The Department of Education also made public the "Education Funding Report," which outlines a series of common sense measures to make every dollar count and to help close the state's persistent achievement gap -- including turning around failing schools and ensuring that every child has an effective teacher in the classroom.
"Since taking office, one of my greatest priorities has been working to ensure that every child in the state receives a high quality education that will prepare them for the demands of the 21st century," said Governor Christie. "In addition to increasing overall spending on education to the highest levels in state history, we can and will go further to implement common sense ways that will make every education dollar count. If we truly want to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, graduate from high school ready for college and career, the money needs to follow the child."
The Governor's budget not only increases education aid for the second year in a row, but also pairs common sense changes to the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) with bold education reforms to make sure resources are used in a way that will close the achievement gap and better serve those children who need them most. These changes were based on the findings of the "Education Funding Report" prepared by Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. The findings of the "Education Funding Report" can be found at http://www.nj.gov/education/stateaid/1213/report.pdf
Making several common sense modifications to the SFRA will finally make it possible to truly fund districts based on the number and needs of students, while at the same time laying out a schedule that adds additional funds in each future year and will fully fund the SFRA over the next five years. This will increase stability and predictability for districts and fund districts based both on the number of students served and the needs of those students.
Common Sense Measures to Make Every Dollar Count:
Bringing New Jersey In Line With Other States and Funding Districts Based on How Many Students are Actually Attending School. Encourage school attendance by basing the enrollment count on actual attendance throughout the year rather than the current law which bases enrollment on a single day (October 15). Basing funding on average daily attendance will incentivize districts to focus on and improve attendance rates leading to more time in the classroom for children. Statewide, among large high schools, a mere one percentage point increase in attendance would result in nearly 4.2 million hours of additional instructional time per year.
Only 10 states in the nation, including New Jersey, use a single-day count to measure student enrollment. 40 others states use more accurate and meaningful measures of student enrollment, including average daily attendance measures or multiple days over the course of the school year.