TRENTON, NJ - The Christie Administration has released state school-aid figures for fiscal year 2016 that exceed last year. Totaling school allotments will be over $12.7 billion across the state of New Jersey. Montclair is set to receive a total of $6,722,691 in this allotment.
On Tuesday, Gov. Christie proposed a $33.8 billion fiscal 2016 budget that ensures no school district will lose K-12 aid from FY 2015 levels.
In light of recent concerns from community members raised at Monday night's Board of Education meeting regarding the Montclair school budget, school officials may find the allotments helpful in budget planning. Yet school officials have cited challenges with rising costs on the horizon.
In addition to more than $9 billion in direct school aid, the FY 2016 budget continues to provide school districts with other significant financial support, including $884 million for school construction debt service, and nearly $2.9 billion for teachers’ pension, Social Security and post-retirement medical benefits.
Montclair Township’s school aid breakdown allotments are as follows: $1,164,526 will be allotted for transportation aid, $4,171,264 is allotted for special education aid, 747,557 is a allotted for security aid, $68,024 PARCC readiness aid, $322,539 for adjustment aid, $68,020 for per pupil growth aid, $322,539 for adjustment aid and $180,765 for additional adjustment aid.
“State funding for New Jersey’s public schools is once again at the highest level ever, in spite of economic challenges,” said Education Commissioner David C. Hespe. “This budget is another example of this Administration’s commitment to supporting education in New Jersey.”
During Monday night's Board of Education meeting, residents were vocally agitated at learning of the district's proposed budget shortfall.
Brian Fleischer said during his presentation before the board on Monday. “As the Board members already know from our work in committees over the past few months, this year’s budget discussion will be an incredibly challenging one. And the basic reason for that is a simple one. The costs of what we currently have are going up by an estimated $6.6 million, driven primarily by a large projected increase in the cost of our employee health benefits, and we’re starting off with $4.3 million less in revenue to pay for it all – creating a $10.9 million starting deficit.”
State officials express that more than a quarter of the fiscal year 2016 state budget set aside for direct aid to New Jersey schools, with New Jersey schools are ranked among the highest in the nation in per-pupil spending.
New Jersey state officials will continue to allocate as much K-12 aid as last year, including the continuation of the Per-Pupil Growth Aid and PARCC Readiness Aid they received this past year. Some school districts may take advantage of other available funding streams that are available to them, including:
School Choice: Gov. Christie signed into law the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program in September 2010, allowing students to attend school at a participating choice district. At the time, the state had a limited pilot program with 15 participating districts. The Choice program has rapidly grown in popularity, increasing to 130 districts by this current school year. The governor has proposed an additional appropriation of $3.3 million, which will bring the total funding to nearly $52.5 million next year, anticipated to serve more than 5,500 students.
Opportunity Scholarship Grants: Acting on his belief that every New Jersey child deserves a high quality education regardless of zip code, the Governor’s proposed budget includes $2 million for scholarship grants to allow children in chronically failing schools to attend alternate educational placements. This pilot program will help provide opportunities for children with no other options.
Extraordinary Costs of Special Education: Gov. Christie’s proposed budget continues funding of $165 million for Extraordinary Costs of Special Education. Local schools have noted that these costs have impacted their local budgets. This funding covers a portion of a district’s expenses over $40,000 per student for children who are served in-district, or a portion of expenses over $55,000 for students who are served outside the district.
Preschool Aid: The proposed fiscal year 2016 budget increases funding for preschool education by $2.7 million, to a total of $655.5 million. This is due to anticipated growth in the number of children enrolled in qualifying preschool programs. State aid will help fund more than 50,000 students attending preschool programs in 142 districts.
District-by-district state aid allocations are online at www.nj.gov/education/stateaid/1516/