New Brunswick Schools Stand To Reap $1.4 Million In New State Aid

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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – New Brunswick schools could reap an additional $1.4 million in state aid if the Legislature approves Gov. Chris Christie’s school funding proposal.

Christie’s proposed state budget includes $250 million in new direct education aid to be shared by every school district in the state.

Of that total, $219 million would be allocated under a new state funding formula for K through 12th grade education, representing a 3.2 percent increase in spending.

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More than $11 million would fund a new Interdistrict School Choice Program, which allows students to join the rolls in districts outside their home municipality, while another $4 million would support charter schools, representing an increase of more than 50 percent.

In New Brunswick, state aid would climb for the 2011-12 school year from a current allocation of $97.7 million to $99.1 million, including $94. 8 million in equalization aid, which ensures funding equity between poor and wealthy school districts, and $4.2 million in special education funding.

The Governor’s plan maintains pre-school funding at current levels for all districts.

In April 2010, the New Brunswick school board unanimously approved a $166 million spending plan that kept the tax levy - the amount funded by property taxes - stable for the third consecutive year, at $27.3 million.

With a 1 percent increase in the levy, the owner of a home assessed at the city average of $117,000 sees an increase of about $39 on their annual tax bill.

That budget called for the elimination of 65 jobs, including 21 teachers.

Neither Schools Superintendent Richard Kaplan nor Business Administrator Richard Jannarone was immediately available for comment on the Governor’s state aid plan.

“By increasing aid to every district, the Governor is showing a tremendous commitment to education funding in these still-challenging economic times, when most departments in state government are seeing spending cuts,” said acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.

The New Brunswick school district serves 8,732 pupils in pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, in 13 public schools. The city has a total population of 55,000 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

City voters do not cast ballots for the budget, which is proposed by the board of school estimate – which decides budget matters - and approved by the school board, both of which are appointed.

A district spending plan will not be developed until state aid is finalized by the Legislature.

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