WEST ESSEX AREA, NJ — After Gov. Phil Murphy announced that approximately $335 million has been cut from his original school-funding proposal as a result of the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the superintendents of the West Essex Regional and Caldwell-West Caldwell (CWC) school districts commented on the revised proposals, which affected the two communities as follows:
CWC Public Schools:
- Original funding proposal: $2,149,345 (17.68 percent increase over 2019-2020)
- Revised funding proposal: $1,929,030
- Difference: $220,315
West Essex Regional Public Schools:
- Original funding proposal: $1,795,072 (15.57 percent increase over 2019-2020)
- Revised funding proposal: $1,630,112
- Difference: $164,960
"We were anticipating cuts but hopefully no additional reductions will follow,” said Damion Macioci, West Essex Superintendent of Schools. “Anytime you lose funding it's disappointing, but we will examine our budget closely and move forward."
CWC Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Heinegg also pointed out that a portion of the reduction from the original allocation of state aid for most districts will be offset by grants recently allotted through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Our reduction in 20-21 state aid is about $220,000 from the original allocation,” said Heinegg. “Of this, about $153,000 is being offset by federal stimulus from the CARES Act. We are reexamining maintenance projects in an effort to balance the budget with no direct impact on instruction.”
Although the reductions will likely cause many districts to need to cut costs since most New Jersey districts have already adopted budgets based on the original state aid proposal, the governor reiterated that the original proposal represented a significant funding increase from previous years.
The original funding proposals for the CWC and West Essex districts, for instance, represented respective increases of 17.68 percent and 15.57 percent over funding for the 2019-2020 school year. Despite the proposed reductions in state aid, both districts are still receiving additional funding compared to last year.
The reduction also comes during a time when districts need to consider the unexpected expenses of remote learning as well as the added cost of safety precautions and social-distancing protocols that might be in place when schools reopen. However, as Heinegg stated, some of these costs could be offset by funding received through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) that has been established as part of the CARES Act.
CLICK HERE to read how the CARES Act has affected the West Essex and CWC districts.
The four West Essex sending districts were also affected by the state funding reductions as follows:
- Original funding proposal: $584,729
- Revised funding proposal: $528,670
- Difference: $56,059
- Original funding proposal: $543,656
- Revised funding proposal: $482,683
- Difference: $60,973
- Original funding proposal: $428,110
- Revised funding proposal: $387,259
- Difference: $40,851
- Original funding proposal: $166,705
- Revised funding proposal: $147,821
- Difference: $18,884