Advocates Ask Court to Block $1.08 Billion Cut in Funding for New Jersey Schools
The Education Law Center filed a motion last week on behalf of more than 300,000 New Jersey public school students asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to uphold and enforce its ruling supporting the school funding formula in the state’s School Funding Reform Act (SFRA).
The Education Law Center filed the motion following Governor Chris Christie’s proposed $1.08 billion cut in school funding for 2010-2011, which will have a devastating effect on the state’s low-income and minority students, and students with disabilities.
The SFRA, passed in 2009, established a new funding formula for New Jersey’s school districts that allocates funding based on the specific needs of the students in each district. In May 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the SFRA is “a constitutionally adequate scheme,” and ordered the state to provide funds for the school districts at the level set forth in the law.
Gov. Christie’s proposed cut will drop the funding levels below what is required by the SFRA in direct violation of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s order.
“Our Constitution, and the court ruling, require that every student, regardless of where he or she lives, receives funding at the amount the state itself says is needed to succeed in school,” said David Sciarra, director of the Education Law Center and attorney for New Jersey’s students. “As the Court has said, ‘every child should have the opportunity to become a productive and contributing citizen,’ even ‘during difficult economic times when there is extreme pressure on state resources.'”
The severity of Governor Christie’s proposed cuts threaten to undermine one of the best school funding formulas in the country, one that takes into account the needs of every single student in the state.