Spending Plan Would Increase K-12 Aid by $336.5 Million, Stabilize School Funding, Expand Preschool

TRENTON, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy announced $16.3 billion in school aid funding under his Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal, which includes a nearly $645,000 increase (a jump of 15%) for the Scotch Plains-Fanwood SPFK12 District. The state figure represents the largest funding commitment to education in New Jersey history.

The additional $336.5 million in K-12 aid and $83 million for preschool in the Governor’s budget plan marks an increase of over a billion dollars in state aid for schools since the beginning of the Administration. 

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Scotch Plains-Fanwood SPFK12 District
2020-21 Total K-12 Aid: $4,652,162
2019-20 Total K-12 Aid: $4,007,387
One Year K-12 Aid Difference: $644,775
Aid One Year Percent Difference: 16.09%

SPFK12 School Aid Details
Special Education Categorical Aid: $3,760,545
Transportation Aid: $792,773
Security Aid: $98,844
2020-21 Total K-12 Aid: $4,652,162

"The Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District is very pleased with the State Aid to be received for the 2020-2021 school year," said Deborah S. Saridaki, business administrator for the SPFK12 District. "The budget is facing significant cost increases in the areas of transportation and out-of-district tuition, and this increase allows the district maintain the tax levy increase at 2% without affecting current programs."

“The budget proposal... furthers my Administration’s commitment to level the playing field across New Jersey’s public education system, ensuring that all students have access to a high quality, world-class education,” Gov. Murphy at Bound Brook High School, where he touted his new education funding plan on Thursday, Feb. 27.

“Our commitment to stronger and fairer New Jersey schools ranges from preschool through high-school graduation,” said Dr. Lamont O. Repollet, Commissioner of Education. “We are focused on bringing high-quality preschool to more and more districts and ensuring that students have access to great technical education and STEM programs that allow them to graduate with a wealth of opportunities for success.”

Expanding Preschool: The budget proposes an increase of nearly $83 million for preschool, for a total of $889.2 million in the FY2021 budget proposal. The increase consists of $58 million for existing programs and $25 million for the expansion of new preschool programs. The new preschool funding is in addition to and separate from the nearly $337 million in additional K-12 school aid, or “formula aid.” School districts that currently receive preschool education aid receive an increase in their per-pupil funding, and preschool programs that expanded this school year will be made permanent. 

Preparing Students for Jobs of the Future: The Governor’s proposed budget would continue to advance the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math; fund initiatives in career and technical education (CTE); and create a new job training program. This includes new and continued support for initiatives such as:

  • $100,000 to support the Jobs for New Jersey’s Graduates program that provides academic, social-emotional, and career readiness supports to underserved students in reaching postsecondary and career goals.
  • Another allocation of $2 million for the Computer Science for All initiative. (The budget refers to the program as the “Secondary School Computer Science Education Initiative.”)
  • $650,000 to support innovative early college programs, which in past years has led to the launch of P-TECH schools across New Jersey. Under the P-TECH program, high schools work collaboratively with community colleges and business to create a program where students graduate in six years with a high school diploma and an associate degree. (The program is referred to as “STEM Dual Enrollment and Early College High Schools” in the budget.)
  • $750,000 for Minority Teacher Development Grants designed to continue diversifying the teacher pipeline. (The grants are referred to as the “High Poverty School District Minority Teacher Recruitment Program” in the budget.)

Boosting School Funding: The FY2021 budget proposal continues the seven-year phase-in to full funding of the school funding formula. That law, S2, was designed to address inequities that resulted from the multiple years of overfunding some districts while failing to adequately meet the needs of other growing districts. The Governor’s budget also includes $50 million in Stabilization Aid, which will provide one-time assistance for districts facing fiscal challenges. When the transition to full funding is complete, all school districts will be funded as envisioned in the state’s school-funding formula: based on student enrollment and community factors.

 Other highlights of the Governor’s FY2021 budget proposal include:. 

Nonpublic and Charter Schools: All funding streams for nonpublic students will be maintained in the budget plan. 

Pensions and Benefits for Retired Educators: The State of New Jersey annually covers important school-related costs such as teacher pensions, medical benefits for retired educators, and Social Security contributions for teachers. Many states do not cover such costs on behalf of their school districts. Gov. Murphy’s proposed budget will include an additional $183 million to support these areas in the upcoming school year.

Additional information on district allocations of state aid is available on the NJ Dept. of Education’s School Finance webpage.