I found your article titled, “Madison Schools Get Biggest State Aid Increase of Any District in Morris County” posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 very misleading. It's amazing how numbers can tell a very different story depending on the context. Madison receives the second lowest amount of aid per student in the county. The lowest is Mendham Borough which is a small K-8 district about a quarter of our size. Our percentage of aid increase looks high in comparison to the other schools in the county but is relatively meaningless when you look at the overall and per student totals. These numbers must be put in some perspective for your readers to gain an understanding of their meaning.
In 2008 the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) was passed by the legislature and signed into law. To date the funding formula established under SFRA has yet to be fully funded by the state. Morris County has been underfunded by over $250,000,000 between fiscal year 2010 through 2014. Under SFRA, Madison should be receiving $2.10 million dollars in state aid. The fact that Madison's paltry $47,600 is the highest increase in state aid for 2014-15 is an insult to the taxpayers of Morris County. This small increase does very little to help us close our budget gap and even with this increase we are still receiving less in aid than we did in 1999-2000. Though being touted as an increase, it is actually another year of significant under funding pushing our total loss since 2010 close to $6,000,000. The Education Law Center has great data on the total under funding that we have all seen since 2010. This is the link to that data: http://www.edlawcenter.org/research/school-funding-data.html
This chart shows Madison’s state aid history and it is a history unfortunately shared by most districts in Morris County.
Madison is once again facing a very difficult budget development cycle. We will be forced to make difficult choices that put our goals for our students in jeopardy. The combination of cumulative losses in state aid, a seemingly endless stream of unfunded educational mandates and the unforgiving 2% tax levy cap has put far too districts, including ours, in a damaging perpetual economic vise.
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