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School Funding in New Jersey

IMPORTANT NEWS


STATEWIDE FUNDING ANALYSES

FY18 NJ School Funding Database
FY18 NJ School Funding Database by Legislative District
FY17 NJ School Funding Database
FY16 NJ School Funding Database 


ADVOCACY by the NEWTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS


STATE AID INEQUITY IN NEW JERSEY

The following overview of the School Funding Reform Act is excerpted from "Shortchanging New Jersey's Students", Education Law Center, July 2014

In 2008, the New Jersey Legislature enacted the first student-based, weighted formula to distribute state aid to schools called the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA).  It is driven by determinations of the cost of resources for all students to achieve the state’s academic standards. The formula delivers weighted funding based on the number of enrolled students who are disabled, and/or economically disadvantaged, and/or limited-English proficient.

The formula also establishes an “adequacy budget” for each school district that reflects the size, grade configuration, and demographic characteristics of the student population based on weighted enrollment. It represents the cost of delivering academic standards to all students based on the formula’s parameters. The adequacy budget is funded through a combination of local taxes and state aid, based on calculations of a municipality’s ability to pay. 

Unfortunately, the SFRA has been consistently underfunded since its inception. In 2010, the Governor proposed, and the Legislature adopted, a budget for FY11 that cut over $1.1 billion, or almost 15%, in state aid from the SFRA formula. Subsequent budgets have failed to properly implement the law, providing minimal and unpredictable state aid increases. 

The Education Law Center (ELC) maintains data on each district's funding situation, including the following graphic on the Newton Public Schools for FY18:

Newtongraphic


TWO SCHOOL FUNDING PROBLEMS = $2 BILLION

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This funding problem is made up of two components: (a) underaiding (i.e., the state not providing full aid to schools; and (b) inequitable distribution (i.e., allocating what is appropriated in an arbitrary manner).


THE UNDERAIDING PROBLEM

Underaiding is the larger of the two problems. SFRA is legislatively derived and judicially constitutional, but but the state has not funded the formula fully since FY09, and presently provides about 85% of the SFRA. On July 4, 2017, an additional $100 million was appropriated by the Legislature for school aid in FY18 following a state government shutdown. 

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This $1.3 billion in underaiding affects every region of the state in all income groups and at all enrollment levels.

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THE INEQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION PROBLEM

The State has set aside nearly $670 million outside the funding formula to keep every district at FY08 aid levels. This additional money, largely in the form of Adjustment Aid, is not distributed according to the formula. This overaids 38% of NJ's school districts at the expense of the rest and happens regardless of pre-2008 fairness issues, enrollment increases and decreases, or other demographic changes experienced by school districts over the past decade.  The majority of NJ school districts continue to be harmed every year by the status quo distribution.

A simple fact will make the point about inequitable distribution clear and unambiguous: for the FY18 school year, 222 of the state's 591 school districts receive more than 100% of their calculated state aid, while 225 others receive less than 70% of theirs.

How should the State of New Jersey be graded for its current distribution of state aid to schools?

Grade

Percentage of state aid received in FY18

Number of Districts

A+++++

> 130%

150

A++++

124-130%

15

A+++

116-123%

14

A++

108-115%

15

A+

100-107%

28

 

Total above 100%

222

     

A

93-100%

34

B

85-92%

35

C

77-84%

47

D

70-76%

28

F

< 70%

225

 

Total below 100%

369

FAIR LOCAL SHARE?

A related problem is that many municipalities contribute more than their fair share of the school budget through the local tax levy, while others provide much less than theirs.  If communities choose to pay higher taxes to support a more than adequate budget, then that is their right consistent with the standard of local control. 

However, 96 municipalities contribute more than 100% of their fair share of local taxes because they receive less than 70% of their state aid, while 123 others contribute less than their fair share while receiving more than 100% of their state aid.  How is that fair?

How should municipalities be graded for their current local tax contribution to schools?

Grade

Percentage of local fair share contributed in FY18

Number of Districts

A+++++

> 130%

47

A++++

124-130%

36

A+++

116-123%

55

A++

108-115%

64

A+

100-107%

64

 

Total above 100%

266

     

A

93-100%

62

B

85-92%

63

C

77-84%

42

D

70-76%

37

F

< 70%

121

 

elow 100%

325


TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK

DOES YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT RECEIVE ITS FAIR SHARE OF STATE AID?

DOES YOUR MUNICIPALITY CONTRIBUTE ITS FAIR SHARE OF LOCAL TAXES?

There are 96 school districts with more than 250,000 students that receive less than 70% of the state aid they are due, yet contribute more than 100% of their local fair share in taxes.

District County Leg DFG ENR State Aid (SA) Ratio Local Tax (LT) Ratio Budget Adequacy (BA) Ratio
Absecon City Atlantic 2 CD 855 45% 105% 93%
Bellmawr Boro Camden 5 B 1,122 52% 107% 78%
Bergenfield Boro Bergen 38 FG 3,536 59% 115% 100%
Bloomfield Twp Essex 28 DE 6,416 46% 108% 83%
Bogota Boro Bergen 37 DE 1,106 64% 133% 104%
Boonton Town Morris 25 FG 1,080 45% 114% 106%
Bordentown Reg Burlington 7 FG 2,479 62% 111% 98%
Bound Brook Boro Somerset 23 B 1,797 37% 131% 65%
Burlington Twp Burlington 7 FG 3,810 67% 119% 99%
Carlstadt-East Rutherford Bergen 36 CD 497 55% 106% 151%
Cherry Hill Twp Camden 6 GH 10,656 49% 121% 112%
Chesterfield Twp Burlington 12 GH 797 19% 131% 92%
Clayton Boro Gloucester 3 CD 1,381 62% 107% 77%
Clifton City Passaic 34 CD 10,981 41% 100% 81%
Clinton Town Hunterdon 23 I 301 45% 125% 120%
Delran Twp Burlington 7 FG 3,060 49% 131% 91%
Dunellen Boro Middlesex 22 FG 1,179 50% 112% 78%
East Greenwich Twp Gloucester 3 FG 1,287 55% 109% 93%
East Windsor Reg Mercer 14 GH 5,238 49% 124% 94%
Egg Harbor Twp Atlantic 2 CD 7,195 60% 128% 95%
Elmwood Park Bergen 35 CD 2,648 24% 120% 83%
Emerson Boro Bergen 39 GH 1,118 47% 111% 119%
Ewing Twp Mercer 15 DE 3,533 52% 122% 104%
Fair Lawn Boro Bergen 38 GH 4,968 38% 123% 115%
Freehold Boro Monmouth 11 B 1,685 45% 116% 67%
Glen Ridge Boro Essex 28 I 1,843 45% 101% 110%
Glen Rock Boro Bergen 38 J 2,509 49% 108% 122%
Green Brook Twp Somerset 22 GH 1,279 53% 101% 113%
Hackensack City Bergen 37 CD 5,504 39% 116% 90%
Hackettstown Warren 23 DE 1,451 55% 124% 96%
Haledon Boro Passaic 35 B 1,015 56% 109% 73%
Harrington Park Boro Bergen 39 I 623 50% 116% 134%
Hasbrouck Heights Boro Bergen 38 FG 1,873 31% 115% 104%
Hawthorne Boro Passaic 38 DE 2,391 39% 111% 103%
Highland Park Boro Middlesex 18 GH 1,665 53% 117% 104%
Hillside Twp Union 20 CD 3,053 62% 118% 87%
Jamesburg Boro Middlesex 14 DE 915 54% 121% 82%
Kearny Town Hudson 32 B 5,853 50% 110% 76%
Kingsway Reg Gloucester 3 FG 2,540 48% 101% 78%
Laurel Springs Boro Camden 4 DE 334 63% 137% 93%
Lawnside Boro Camden 5 B 448 64% 149% 93%
Linden City Union 22 B 5,850 47% 146% 105%
Lindenwold Boro Camden 4 B 2,727 60% 109% 72%
Little Ferry Boro Bergen 36 CD 1,294 26% 131% 95%
Lodi Borough Bergen 38 B 3,331 47% 140% 91%
Manchester Reg Passaic 35 B 863 54% 213% 101%
Manville Boro Somerset 16 CD 1,478 40% 124% 79%
Maple Shade Twp Burlington 6 CD 2,199 52% 120% 91%
Medford Lakes Boro Burlington 8 I 543 51% 114% 96%
Merchantville Boro Camden 6 DE 492 65% 106% 89%
Metuchen Boro Middlesex 18 I 2,222 50% 101% 109%
Middlesex Boro Middlesex 22 FG 2,052 66% 114% 97%
Midland Park Boro Bergen 40 GH 928 69% 116% 146%
Milltown Boro Middlesex 17 FG 968 60% 113% 110%
Monroe Twp Gloucester 4 CD 5,907 64% 117% 90%
Mount Olive Twp Morris 24 GH 4,409 67% 133% 116%
Netcong Boro Morris 25 DE 285 57% 131% 99%
New Milford Boro Bergen 38 FG 1,970 58% 114% 112%
Newton Town Sussex 24 CD 1,085 60% 148% 102%
North Arlington Boro Bergen 36 DE 1,842 35% 105% 92%
North Brunswick Twp Middlesex 17 FG 6,232 33% 117% 86%
North Plainfield Boro Somerset 22 DE 3,330 59% 128% 84%
Northern Valley Reg Bergen 37 I 2,213 53% 118% 153%
Northvale Boro Bergen 37 FG 504 50% 127% 127%
Oakland Boro Bergen 39 I 1,399 48% 131% 144%
Park Ridge Boro Bergen 39 I 1,213 52% 108% 157%
Parsippany-Troy Hills Twp Morris 26 GH 6,915 56% 113% 125%
Pascack Valley Reg Bergen 39 I 2,035 51% 122% 150%
Passaic Valley Reg Passaic 40 DE 1,282 51% 117% 116%
Pompton Lakes Boro Passaic 40 FG 1,572 57% 135% 115%
Rahway City Union 22 CD 3,761 61% 114% 90%
Ramsey Boro Bergen 39 I 2,507 53% 107% 147%
Ridgefield Park Twp Bergen 36 DE 2,030 35% 141% 91%
River Dell Regional Bergen 38 I 1,587 45% 126% 125%
River Edge Boro Bergen 38 I 1,166 24% 109% 95%
River Vale Twp Bergen 39 I 1,133 45% 107% 138%
Riverside Twp Burlington 7 B 1,263 67% 117% 82%
Rockaway Boro Morris 25 FG 568 41% 105% 97%
Roselle Boro Union 20 B 2,822 66% 116% 85%
Roselle Park Boro Union 21 DE 2,032 59% 124% 91%
Runnemede Boro Camden 5 B 843 66% 117% 91%
Saddle Brook Twp Bergen 38 DE 1,716 61% 107% 119%
Scotch Plains-Fanwood Reg Union 22 I 5,419 52% 101% 110%
Somerville Boro Somerset 16 FG 1,608 51% 124% 97%
South Hackensack Twp Bergen 36 CD 354 57% 111% 124%
South Orange-Maplewood Essex 27 I 7,198 54% 105% 105%
Swedesboro-Woolwich Gloucester 3 DE 1,664 61% 125% 97%
Waldwick Boro Bergen 40 GH 1,583 45% 133% 129%
Wallington Boro Bergen 36 B 1,385 38% 113% 85%
Washington Boro Warren 23 DE 512 67% 128% 97%
Wayne Twp Passaic 40 GH 7,629 49% 106% 132%
West Orange Town Essex 27 GH 6,665 34% 135% 119%
Westville Boro Gloucester 5 B 353 66% 122% 87%
Westwood Reg Bergen 39 GH 2,813 58% 102% 125%
Wharton Boro Morris 25 DE 784 56% 138% 95%
Woodbridge Twp Middlesex 19 DE 13,571 34% 117% 90%
TOTALS       252,123 52% 117% 97%

Click here for the statewide database of all 591 NJ school districts for Fiscal Year 2018 with sheets sorted by the following criteria:

State Aid Ratio (percentage of uncapped SFRA aid received)

Tax Levy Ratio (percentage of local fair share contributed)

Budget Adequacy Ratio (percentage of adequacy budget spent)

Funding Fairness Index (budget adequacy into a single metric)

You can also access this data sorted for each of NJ's 40 Legislative Districts.


MEDIA COVERAGE ON NJ SCHOOL FUNDING SINCE 2016