NJ State Public School Funding and Budget Cuts- contact your representatives
Wed, Mar 11 9:25am
From Superintendent Feder:
 
NJ State Public School Funding and Budget Cuts: Urging everyone to come together as this issue concerns us all.
 
March 11th: Voice your concern...make a call, leave a voicemail or send an email!!!
 
Time to start the fight. This is the first of what we fear will be a long fight, but we must start somewhere. The S2 losing districts are banning together and this will give you some talking points and a script to call Senator Sweeney's office tomorrow. He will be receiving thousands of call and it would be great for some to come from SB. Please share with your friends and family and get the calls going today, March 11th.
 
URGENT ACTION
CALLS NEED TO BE MADE TONIGHT 3/10 AND TOMORROW, 3/11 TO SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE AND SENATE PRESIDENT SWEENEY.
(Assembly Budget Committee members will receive calls next week – more to come)
NJ Schools are going to lose millions of dollars in state aid if we don’t take action. During the South Brunswick Board of Education Meeting (3/2/20), Superintendent Feder provided an update on the impact that the State Funding Formula will have on South Brunswick (as well as many other districts). South Brunswick School District Budget Presentation 3/2/2020
Next year, (2020-2021) South Brunswick will lose over $1.9 million (-8.2%) and over the course of 6 years, over $9 million due to the new “Funding Formula” that the state uses to determine how much aid each district will receive. In total, we will have over $16 million in cuts through 2024. This is on top of the tens of millions of dollars of state aid that hasn’t been paid in over a decade, leaving us to make cuts in many areas and put off new initiatives to make up the difference.
By the formula’s calculation, the State of NJ claims that SB should pay more and that the state should pay less, while some districts are receiving over 20% increases. Interestingly, the state will not make the claim that the district doesn’t need the funding, but it has handcuffed us to figure out how to obtain it.
So the outcome is this: a district, identified by the state’s formula, as under adequacy, and IN NEED of funding, has been stripped of additional funding with no mechanism to address the issue.
Over the last 3 years, SB Township’s ratables (taxes collected), increased over $265MM along with the “Valuation” of our town, $8.6 Billion to $9.9 Billion (+13%). Majority of homeowners have seen minimal to no property tax increase, EVEN with the increases to the school tax levy over the same period, due in part to, new construction and businesses entering SB. This is part of the reason why the state believes we should pay more of our fair share.
So why can’t we just increase the amount we can obtain from our township since the town has this extra money, thus solving the state aid reduction problem? Actually we could, (without impacting property taxes), IF, IF we could increase the tax levy cap from 2% to 4.5%. BUT, the STATE LAW PROHIBITS US FROM GOING OVER 2%, unless we bring this to a vote --- in November --- after school budgets are set.
So your voice is vital at this time. We need to send a clear message to Trenton that South Brunswick and other districts negatively impacted, cannot afford, nor do we support, the funding formula.
 
We need EVERYONE to contact all members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, listed below, TONIGHT AND TOMORROW - WEDNESDAY MARCH 11 with the following message.
 
Feel free to post on your personal FB Page, as many districts, including Toms River, Old Bridge, Southhampton, Hillsborough etc. are getting hit hard, while others, like Rumson, Alpine, Saddle River, Red Bank, Shrewsbury are all receiving increases.
 
If you get voicemail – leave a message. Remember, remain civil and respectful to the staffers who answer the phones as they are just the messengers.
 
Also, they are going to get hit from many districts, so you may be asked if you are for or against S2, so you are AGAINST
 
If you send an email, you need to go to the Legislative page here – https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/committees/Committees.asp…
And click on the name of the Budget and Appropriations Committee Members’ name. It will take you to their email
 
Senator President Steve Sweeney – 856 - 251-9801
Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo - 201 – 804- 8117
Senator Sandra Cunningham– 201-451-5100
Senator Dawn Marie Addiego - 609-654-1498
Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez - 856-541-1251
Senator Patrick Diegnan - 908-757-1677
Senator Linda Greenstein - 609-395-9911
Senator Declan O’Scanlon - 732-444-1838
Senator Steven Oroho - 973-300-0200
Senator Teresa Ruiz - 973-484-1000
Senator Troy Singleton - 856-234-2790
Senator Michael Testa - 609-778-2012
Senator Samuel Thompson - 732-607-7580
 
Here is the script:
 
My name is _______ . I am a resident in South Brunswick and am calling Senator (Insert legislator name) to express my concern with the negative impact that Senate Bill 2 is having on my and other children’s education and demand that Senator (Insert legislator name) and the legislature work with the Governor to take positive action to address the critical issue of school funding. Please allow me to explain how our district will be impacted.
Over the next 5 years South Brunswick, will be losing tens of millions of dollars and at the same time will need to build over 5,000 new homes to meet the courts requirements of Affordable Housing, thus doubling the number of K-12 students. We are in an untenable situation, facing years of dramatic cuts, impacting students and families as S2, will decimate South Brunswick. We have no options for offsetting these cuts because the Governor vetoed the ability for some districts to go above the 2% cap, even though it would not raise property tax here in South Brunswick.
Over the past 6 years, South Brunswick has received a total of $256,001 (two hundred fifty six thousand and 1 dollar), in aid and now you’re going to take away more than $16 million over the next 5 years. Last week, Senator Sweeney made a comment, that districts whose state funding is being reduced must “Right- size their school districts”. Consider what “right-size” means to us in South Brunswick over the next 4 years:
- Class sizes will increase to over 35 students even though Senator Sweeney stated that an appropriate class size would be 22 students.
- All sports, including Football and many club activities will be affected, some eliminated
- Full-Day Kindergarten will be eliminated
- AP Classes will be reduced and some eliminated
- National and State recognized music programs will be reduced
- Thousands of children will no longer receiving busing
- Huge staffing reductions resulting in program losses
The Senator has stated that it was never the intent of S2 to negatively impact students, but that is exactly what is happening to half a million children in New Jersey. Increased state aid for districts who have experienced increased enrollment with no funding increase, of course, must continue BUT not at the expense of students in school districts whose state funding is being reduced.
The manner in which S2 is presently constructed is not the answer. A plan must be implemented that ensures all 1.4 million children in New Jersey have access to equitable educational opportunities.
New Jersey is ranked #1 in the nation for public education. That ranking will not last if school districts must dismantle educational programming and cut staff due to the negative impact of S2. Senator ______ has the political clout to effect positive change and he/she must do so.
S2 funding outcomes had unintended consequences such as what is happening to districts now being decimated. But now Senator _____ knows, and now he/she is making a conscious decision to decimate these districts and we just can't figure out how and why legislators would make this choice to destroy young children's schooling careers.
So, I’d like to know what he/she plans to do to help South Brunswick and other districts negatively affected by these cuts to ensure ALL students receive a free and appropriate education as stated in NJ’s State Constitution.
Articles/Sources: NJ State School Aid - Fiscal Year 2021 K-12, District Details
CBS NEWS New York - NJ School Funding Formula Freehold / Manalapan
Northjersey.com School budget increases funding for North Jersey Schools