Help us Restore and Preserve MILLIONS of Dollars in State Aid for Jackson
What is Happening?
The Jackson School District has joined a coalition of districts in a unified fight to restore and preserve millions of dollars in state aid that will be lost under what we consider to be an unjust and inequitable school funding law known a S2.
What is at stake?
Under this funding law, the Jackson School District stands to lose a total of $17.3 million in aid over the next seven years. This would have a devastating impact on our programs and students.
- March 2018 - After many years of struggling with stagnant state aid, district receives a very slight increase to our state aid and creates a budget that supports curriculum but makes only limited investments in other areas. Even with the very small increase we received, we were still forced to lose 14 positions. We also had to scale down facilities improvements drastically, reject technology, other improvements and initiatives in order to stay within the two percent cap.
- July 2018 - State announces it is taking $1.35 million away from our students, distressing what was already a very tight budget. We were forced to apply $600,000 in anticipated surplus - which is money we will not be able to fold back into the following year’s budget. We were also forced to lose two positions we need (a behaviorist and a foreign language teacher) and to cut non-salary line items to make up for the remaining $752,314 loss.
- August 2018 - District appeals funding cuts, explaining our ability to provide a quality education while being efficient and responsible.
- October 2018 - Commissioner denies district appeal. District clarifies each denial criteria and asks for reconsideration.
- October 2018 - District joins other towns in lawsuit to block state aid cuts.
Power in Numbers: Our Coalition to Fight for Fair Funding
The Jackson School District has joined an alliance of school districts, municipalities and tax payers to actively oppose the devastating financial impact caused by the reduction of state aid resulting from P.L. 2018, Chapter 67, otherwise known as S2.
This alliance is a coalition of eight school districts which have the support of their respective town councils through adopted resolutions. Together, we issued the following release:
The SFRA (School Funding Reform Act) is a weighted school-funding formula, the goal of which was to create a fair, equitable, and predictable formula to fund New Jersey’s school districts. The law ... has done no such thing. Despite rigorous advocacy efforts, we have been forced to file a legal action before the Commissioner of Education because our efforts to discuss the severe and negative impact that the state aid reduction will have on students, educational programming (planning for the future), and the taxpayers in our districts have fallen on deaf ears.
Although we would have preferred to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the DOE to address a path forward to check the dire educational impairments caused by the reduction in state aid, the DOE seemingly is not interested in confronting the calamitous impact of S2. Instead of State Aid being determined in accord with the SFRA and its related and predicate constitutional mandates, it is instead being determined arbitrarily and without transparency, and the levels of funding provided to Petitioning School Districts by the DOE renders them unable to provide their students with a thorough and efficient education as required by the State Constitution and Supreme Court mandate. We do not object to the funding of any school district which is satisfied with its State aid, nor do we seek in any manner whatsoever to have State aid reduced to any non-petitioning district.
Because of the underfunding, each of the Petitioning Districts is unable (or at immediate risk of being unable) to provide needed programs without being forced to place an additional and more excessive burden on their tax payers, and, in some instances, unable to do so altogether because of the State-imposed cap on property tax increases. Among the consequences will be staffing reductions, the failure to hire additional staff (despite recognized student needs), the elimination or reduction of programs and curriculum offerings, the discontinuance of both enrichment and extra-curricular activities, to name but a few of the negative impacts being considered.
Simply put, S2 will have dire and unintended consequences for the students in many districts whose state aid will be reduced over the next six (6) years. If fully enacted, the reduction in state aid will result in a catastrophic effect on educational programming for students. It is our fervent hope to avoid such a disastrous outcome. Of course, we remain willing and eager to mutually find an acceptable solution.
The coalition is represented by the Weiner Law Group, LLP.