NEWTON, NJ – This is the time of year when school districts, especially the business administrators, hold their breath and cross their fingers waiting for the announcement of state aid figures from Trenton. They are required to be released within two of days of the Governor’s State of the State address.
The numbers were released today. Sparta is slated to receive exactly the same amount of aid this year as last. The total aid is reported to be $5,880,552. The aid is broken into several categories:
Equalization Aid - $5,168,494
Choice Aid - $27,900
Transportation Aid - $29,820
Special Education Aid - $584,268
Security Aid - $48,449
PARCC Readiness Aid - $10,810
Per Pupil Growth Aid - $10,810
Equalization Aid is determined by taking the state’s formula for “a thorough and efficient education”. The district determines the funding needed to provide T and E, using a baseline number of per pupil spending, referred to Adequacy Budget. The state then calculates the Local Share or amount of money able to be raised for the school budget through local taxes. Theoretically, the difference between the Adequacy Budget and Local Share is Equalization Aid. In actual practice, the state usually determines the Adequacy Budget and how much money they will put into Equalization Aid and the difference is expected to come from Local Share.
Transportation Aid begins with two baseline numbers, cost per pupil of transporting general education and special education students, calculated at a uniform rate by the state. In addition, each gets an Average Per Mile rate, also set by the state. The distance traveled by students is multiplied by that APM rate determining the transportation aid.
Special Education Aid is based on several calculations including taking 14.78 and 1.72 percent of the district’s Base per Pupil amount. The numbers are added together and then two thirds of that number is added to the Adequacy Budget. The remaining third, after applying the Geographic Cost Adjustment, is the district’s Special Education Aid.
In addition to that, Extraordinary Special Education Aid is available to cover excessive costs. The state calculates excessive costs as more than $45 thousand for a student in district and $60 thousand for out of district placement. The excess amount is reimbursed to the district at a rate of 90 percent for in district placement and 75 percent for out of district placement.
Security Aid has two parts. The first is a baseline number per pupil. Additional aid is based on At Risk students in the district.
Both PARCC Readiness and Per Pupil Growth Aid are new categories of funding. Each of these categories received $13.5 million to be distributed to districts throughout the state.