JUST IN: New Jersey Senate Committee Approves Bill Restoring $102 Million In Proposed Cuts To Schools

UPDATE: The New Jersey state Senate has now passed this legislation as well, by a 36-0 vote.

The bill must now pass the Assembly before it can be signed by Governor Murphy.

See earlier story below.

The New Jersey state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved a bill this afternoon which restores over $100 million to schools across the state after Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 left many school districts facing unprecedented cuts for next school year.

The bill, which was first introduced on Friday and is expected to be approved by the full Senate later today, will appropriate $102 million, or about two-thirds of the $157 million that was initially proposed to be cut statewide.

In Jackson, where the proposed budget had the district facing a $6.3 million cut, the district will receive $4.49 million, while the Toms River Regional School District which was expected to see the largest cut among Ocean and Monmouth counties with a proposed $14.4 million reduction – a staggering 32% cut from the current year – will get $9.5 million back.

Testifying in favor of the bill, Toms River Mayor Mo Hill criticized the state’s school funding formula and reiterated that school children will ultimately feel the brunt.

“The S-2 formula does not work and is driving school districts to the brink, he said, while touting the district’s 93 percent graduation rate and calling for a new and transparent formula.

Hill also noted that the funding has been slashed at a far greater rate than the the slowing student enrollment numbers.

“Enrollment in Toms River Schools has decreased 7% since the implantation of S2, but our State funding has been cut by 55%,” he noted.

The Mayor went on to make the case that the township can not simply raise taxes to plug the deficit.

“This problem cannot be solved by increasing property taxes,” he said.

“The district is constitutionally prohibited from raising property taxes by more than 2% to meet the thorough and efficient threshold, even if the tax payers consented via referendum because thorough and efficient is prohibited from being put to referendum,” Hill noted.

“New Jersey needs a school funding formula that is transparent, easy to understand, and that is fair to all children and communities in the State,” Hill added.

Brick Mayor Lisa Crate also testified in favor of the bill.

Overall, the legislation will provide roughly 66% of the aid that was lost by districts throughout the state and will be considered adjustment aid in the school funding formula.

To receive the aid provided under the bill, a school district will be required to submit a written plan to the Commissioner of Education explaining how the district is going to use the funds and how the district is going to fund operations in future school years in which the district does not receive Stabilization Aid.

The cuts to many school districts in the area date back to 2018 when a new state law, known as S-2, realigned the school funding formula for the entire state.


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