Lawmakers have fast-tracked a bill that would restore two-thirds of the state aid that school districts were set to lose in the upcoming year.
Schools throughout the state were collectively preparing for a loss of about $157 million. The proposed legislation would restore $102.8 million and provide a one-time payment to districts that were losing funding for the 2023-24 school year.
Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director of the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University, said districts previously were given aid and required to use it, so the districts had “baked in that level of state aid” to their budgets to cover staffing and salaries.
“The process of cutting, in many cases substantially cutting, that aid has resulted in what districts would argue to be unconscionable state aid cuts in an environment where they would have to lay off teachers, reduce facilities, make substantive changes or attempt to raise property taxes,” he said. “Districts were placed in an untenable situation, and legislators representing those districts feel the pressure from that.”
Pfeiffer noted that the funding formula that is in place now has created new issues where there are changes in enrollment and other factors.