Education

Newton's Superintendent Keeps the Spotlight on School Funding

01d5d3d6f6246b97f8da_IMG_4035.JPG
Newton Superintendent Dr. Kennedy Greene Credits: Jennifer Dericks
01d5d3d6f6246b97f8da_IMG_4035.JPG

NEWTON, NJ –For Newton Superintendent Dr. Kennedy Greene, the issue of school funding is not limited to the confines of Newton.  Greene has been lobbying in Trenton and other forums to have the state follow the court ordered funding formula that is supposed to be the law of the land.  His passion for the topic is fueled by wanting to do the best for the children in his care, and across the state.

Greene testified in Trenton in front of the Senate Select Committee on School Funding, Joint Committee on Public Schools and the Assembly Education Committee.  He has also “attended a number of other meetings to hear what’s going on.” 

The opportunities to testify have come from an invitation to the Association of School Administrators of which Greene is the Secretary on the Executive Committee. 

Sign Up for E-News

His concern about funding stems from the “constitutional responsibility of the state to fund the formula that has been court tested and held up as a model, nationally as fair spending. “

His argument is that it is a “$2 billion problem; $1.4 billion under funding by the state and $600,000 in funds being distributed in ways that are contrary to the formula.” 

As to the under funding, Greene said it is a matter of priorities of the elected officials.  "When state revenues rose by 33 percent educational funding did not rise by 33 percent," making an effort to fully fund the School Funding Reform Act

SFRA was passed in 2008.

“For the last seven years the education community has been hoping it will get better, but it is getting to the point of being unsustainable budgetarily,” Greene said. 

Under the umbrella of school funding, the state has created a couple of formulas by which districts are measured.  Funding levels for school districts are evaluated by the state’s “adequacy” formula.  Adequacy is based on a per-pupil dollar amount.

The state has also developed a formula to determine the amount of property taxes local communities should be paying to support their local schools.  This is called “local fair share,” and is based on property values and income levels.

“The idea that everyone in New Jersey is paying too much in taxes is not quite accurate,” Greene said.  “Some districts are not paying their fair share and getting funded over adequacy.”

Using state terminology and formulas takes away the subjective or emotional interpretation of how funding is supposed to work, under the law.  It is not about the politics or culture of the district.  It is supposed to be objective funding for students.

In Newton, “the issue isn’t a sufficient budget, it’s that the taxpayer are over taxed,” Greene said.  “Newton pays 44 percent more than their fair share.”

Newton is one of four districts in Sussex county that is underfunded.  The other three, according to Greene are Green, Franklin and Lenape.  “It’s not a size, region or wealth issue,” Greene said.  “Just as many high wealth districts are not getting their fair share,” as districts with lower income levels.

He explained that some districts are getting more than 100 percent in adequacy funding from the state to make up for the taxpayers paying less than their fair share.  “Some districts have become reliant on overfunding by the state.”

The two percent levy cap imposed on school districts in 2008 adds to the difficulties of districts not funded to adequacy by the state.  Each year school district budgets can only increase the local property tax levy by two percent.  With most of the districts’ budgets going to contractual and non-discretionary spending for items such as insurance and energy, staying with in the two percent cap becomes a difficult task.

Seven years under the two percent cap rule finds many district at or nearing the point of unsustainability.  Status quo budgets are being cut. 

“It is not so much a partisan issue but how it plays in your back yard,” Greene said.  “Each district has their own issues” such as the facilities needs facing the Newton Board of Education.   

At the last meeting the Newton Board of Education they passed a resolution asking for the legislature to fully fund SFRA.  Green said other districts have asked for copies of the resolution for their own boards to consider. 

Greene has been working to keep the pressure on legislators along with a “small group of superintendents who talk regularly.”  He is hoping they are able to continue the momentum and to have it turn into action. 

Since he began to testify on this issue last year, Greene said, “legislators seem to be engaged and asking better, more in depth questions.”

“We are doing what we can to make the issue known locally,” Greene said, encouraging people to write letters and contact elected officials to get SFRA to be funded as required. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Newton

Newton Police: Drug Charges for Wanted Andover Man Parked in Cemetary

June 16, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—An Andover man is facing drug charges after caught the attention of police having parked in the Newton Cemetery.  On June 8 around 4:30 p.m., Ptl. John Flanagan was patrolling the cemetery when he saw Jeffrey Schermerhorn, 27, standing outside his car, police report. 

As the officer approached he was Schermerhorn throw something into the woods.  Schermerhorn ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River

Education

Carousel_image_dc175377b12fc03a60a8_toni4

Sun, July 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, July 17, 6:00 PM

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, Morristown

CASA Information Session

Education Giving Back Law & Justice

Carousel_image_42776b9cbb4ed47ca5de_paintbrush-pallet-

Mon, July 23, 10:00 AM

Sparta Public Library, Sparta

Watercolor Workshop

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_2cec67206897437ad29b_sparta_historical_society

Sun, August 26, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Sussex County Views: The Art of Toni Chaplin

Arts & Entertainment

Sparta High School Students Visited by Modern Day Hero

June 16, 2018

SPARTA. NJ — The students in Andrew Lowery’s Heroes and Heroines senior English class had a special visitor last week. Gillian Lichota from iRise Above Breast Cancer foundation met with Lowery’s students and students from Kate Brennan’s Women’s Studies class as well as Emily Scott’s AP Government in Politics students.

The story of how Lichota came to be in ...

The Power of Positive Engagement

June 17, 2018

To the Editor:

I wanted to share this letter from Laurie Beacham, Media Director for NJ 11th for Change, about the notable increase in voter turnout and citizens deciding to run in the recent primary election:

"The 11th Congressional District has a lot to be proud of. In the June 5th primaries, voter turnout climbed from almost 33,000 in 2014 to over 86,000. Democratic ...

Again, Oroho, Space and Wirths Get It Wrong

On Wednesday, June 13th, a series of gun violence prevention bills were signed into law by Governor Murphy. These bills will strengthen our already strong gun laws in New Jersey and none of these new laws infringe on anyone’s right to keep and bear arms.   

Unfortunately, Senator Oroho and Assemblymen, Space and Wirths our Legislative District 24 representatives voted NO to a ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...

2 Morristown Residents Help Take 1,500 Car Trips off NJ Roadways During Annual Bike to Work Challenge

CEDAR KNOLLS, NJ - Morristown residents Christopher Buck and Rebecca Karger were among the 150 commuters who embraced a more sustainable commute by trading in their car keys for pedals during TransOptions' annual Bike to Work Challenge.

Buck logged 832 miles and Karger recorded 38 trips during the month. Overall, participants took 1,379 trips, and ...

Hillsborough HS Teacher Suspended after Arrest for Alleged Sexual Relationship with Student

NEW BRUNSWICK , NJ - A Hillsborough High School English teacher has been suspended following his arrest for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student during a five-month period earlier this year, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.

Kenneth Shindle, 27, of Plainsboro, has been charged with two second-degree counts of endangering the welfare ...

Why Buying a Home is Better Than Renting

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home in New Jersey, but nobody ever asks whether or not it’s a good time to rent. Regardless, Team Nest Builder wants to make certain that everyone understands that now is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2018 first quarter median rent numbers. This graph from their report shows rent increases from 1988 ...

5 Fab Father's Day Happenings in Sussex & Morris Counties

Father’s Day hits this Sunday--what do YOU have planned? Team Nest Builder offers a slew of Father’s Day fun in Morris and Sussex County. Read on and surprise Dad with cool activities! (Be sure to check if registration is required prior to showing up!)

Alstede Farms' Father's Day Brunch – Chester

From 9am-noon, take a scenic hayride to a brunch buffet that offers ...

Don't Miss Sunday's OPEN HOUSE for 4BR Sparta Mountain Beauty

Perched handsomely on an acre in the beautiful SpartaMountain community, 28 Waters Edgeoffers a 4BR 2.5 Bathroom home with space and style. Come see for yourself this Sunday, June 17th, from 1-3pm at our OPEN HOUSE!

Located in the prestigious Sparta Mountain Reserve, this large, beautiful center hall colonial with open floor plan has a nice, level play yard with direct ...

Days on The Housing Market Drops to New Low

According to recently released data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median number of days that a home spent on the market hit a new low of 26 days in April, as 57% of homes remained on the market for under a month.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, opined,

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace. Since NAR began tracking this ...

Visit TRIPLE Open Houses This Sunday

Got plans for this weekend? You do now! Team Nest Builder offers 3 fantastic OPEN HOUSES this Sunday from 1pm-3pm:  2 in Sparta and 1 in Morristown.  Read on and plan your visits!

15 Edison Terrace, Sparta

Nestled in the lovely woods of Sparta Mountain, 15 Edison Terrace offers a beautiful dwelling for nature lovers!  This 3BR 2.5 Bath home with ...

June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting

NEWTON, NJ - The June 13 Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting video.

 

Pass It Along Triathlon

Tri-something new this July and sign up for the Pass It Along Triathlon!

The 9th annual Pass It Along Triathlon will take place on Saturday, July 28, 2018, at the Lake Mohawk Country Club. This triathlon features two USAT-certified courses - Olympic and Sprint. This triathlon has become a Sparta tradition and everyone is welcome to attend to cheer on athletes and be a part of the ...

Welcome to the Pass It Along Column!

This is the first in a weekly series of columns which will focus on news, events, announcements, and opportunities from Pass It Along. Please check back next week to see what’s happening!

Welcome to Pass It Along's TAPinto column! We are so excited to partner with TAPinto Sparta to share news, highlights and opportunities with you to get involved with Pass It Along!

What is ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Local Agency Honors Volunteers

June 18, 2018

Volunteers and representatives from local businesses and organizations were recognized for their outstanding efforts in support of Project Self-Sufficiency at the agency’s annual Mosaic Awards ceremony.    The event recognizes individuals, schools, civic groups, businesses and non-profit organizations which have provided invaluable assistance to the agency during the previous ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

June 15, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...