CLIFFSIDE PARK – Governor Phil Murphy celebrated the signing of a school funding bill the Governor's office called "historic" this week, appearing at a signing ceremony at a Cliffside Park elementary school. The bill makes changes to the state's school funding formula that will result in Hackensack public schools receiving a 28.4% increase in education aid totaling over $4.2 million.
“New Jersey’s education system experienced eight years of neglect during the previous administration, which underfunded our public schools by $9 billion,” said Governor Murphy. “This legislation is long overdue and I thank Senate President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Craig Coughlin for their commitment to modernize the State’s school funding system. The necessary adjustments we are making today will bring fairness to the system and ensure our school children receive the quality education they deserve.”
The legislation, which takes effect in Fiscal Year 2020, 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. The Governor and legislative leaders believe that this will lead to more equitable funding distribution through the school funding formula. The legislation calls for aid to so-called "overfunded" districts to be reduced and aid to underfunded districts to increase 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.
"These funds will allow us to make important capital improvements to our growing school district, such as renovations, installations and additions that we really couldn't even get started on the past 9 years, with what little state aid we received," said Acting Superintendent of Hackensack Schools Rosemary Marks. "This time next year, if there are indications the same funding will be matched or exceeded by the state, it will really enable us to jump start our facilities projects."
Marks outlined some priorities for the district as adding a new building and staff so classroom enrollment can be reduced for the first time in several years, and expanding access to pre-kindergarten by expanding the small Early Childhood Development Center location currently used for that program.
Sponsors of the school funding legislation include Senate President Sweeney, Senator Teresa Ruiz, Senator Linda Greenstein, Assembly Speaker Coughlin and Assemblyman Louis Greenwald.