SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The board of trustees passed a resolution requesting a review of state aid distribution to the South Orange-Maplewood School District at their meeting on February 10.
According to the resolution, the school district received only a fraction of the state aid it was determined to need under the School Funding Reform Act.
“The State of New Jersey has failed to fully fund SFRA, resulting in partial state aid distribution to school districts,” reads the resolution.
“The way funding is distributed needs to be reviewed,” said Elizabeth Daugherty, president of the Board of Education. “We’re supposed to get $20 million in state aid, but we get $4 million.”
According to the resolution, the school district is facing a deficit of $2.8 million which is expected to result in “sizable lay-offs to staff, reductions in programming, and increases in class size” in order to keep the village’s yearly property tax increase at two percent.
“Our deficit is larger than our increase (in operating budget),” said Daugherty. “We’re facing very, very painful cuts that are going to touch the classroom."
The resolution also states that while more than half of South Orange’s property taxes go toward funding the district’s schools, the yearly increases are becoming unsustainable for the town’s property owners.
Insufficient state aid distribution is not just an issue for South Orange and Maplewood.
“Funding for other New Jersey school districts for fiscal year 2014 ranged from … 47% to 40 times the capped (stabilized) aid determined by SFRA,” reads the resolution.
“We want to raise the awareness,” Daugherty said. “To ask for a review of the distribution so that it can be equitable in the way it’s divvied out.”
The resolution, which includes a formal request for a review of aid distribution, is set to be sent to numerous public offices, including those of Senator Richard Codey, Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey School Boards Association.