BELMAR/LAKE COMO — Despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s record-setting  $15.4 billion in school funding in his proposed fiscal 2020 budget, the Belmar and Lake Como school districts are among 200 districts throughout the state — and some 25 in Monmouth County — that will lose direct state aid for this school year.

State aid for the 2019-2020 year will drop nearly $69,000 for both districts — Belmar experiencing a 2.7 percent decrease to $938,579 and Lake Como a 7.8 percent decline to $519,929, according to the N.J. Department of Education’s state aid allocations by district.

In July 2018, Belmar and Lake Como’s boards of education were forced to shift funds in their budgets to cover a total of $100,000 loss in state aid for the 2018-2018 school year.

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During a press conference yesterday, March 8, in West Orange, Gov. Murphy said his budget proposal provides “record levels of support for New Jersey schools,” climbing $206 million in direct K-12 school aid —or “formula aid” — over the current fiscal year. Across the state, 368 districts will see increases in aid when compared with this fiscal year.

“We’ve made a commitment to education, and that is reflected in the historic levels of state aid to schools in our proposed spending plan,” said Murphy.

The budget proposal continues the seven-year phase-in to fully fund schools, which began last year and was further solidified with the passage of a law (S2) designed to eliminate years of inequities in funding that saw some school districts being overfunded while aid never kept pace in rapidly growing districts, according to a press release by the governor's office.

The new law modifies the current school funding law to eliminate adjustment aid, as well as state aid growth caps, and allows adjustments to tax growth limitations for certain school districts.

Over the course of seven years, aid to overfunded districts will be reduced and aid to underfunded districts will be increased so that all public school districts achieve their appropriate levels of assistance under the formula contained in the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) by fiscal year 2025, according to the governor’s office.

Under the 2019-2020 funding plan, supporting quality preschool continues to be a key component of the spending plan, the governor office’s said in a press release. Districts that currently receive preschool education aid will see an increase in per-pupil funding, while the preschool programs in 64 communities that expanded this school year will be made permanent. In addition to the $206 million in additional K-12 school aid, the governor proposes a total increase of more than $68 million to support existing preschools and expand new programs.

STEM, technology, and career and technical education also are important elements Murphy’s budget. His proposal includes $2 million to continue the Computer Science for All initiative, $400,000 to support innovative early college programs, and $1.35 million to continue to provide science education to students through Liberty Science Center.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is the official electronic newspaper of both municipalities. As a locally owned news organization, TAPinto through its advertisers is able to publish online, objective news 24/7 at no charge. Sign up for its free daily e-News, and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

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