S 2 A 2
Modifies school funding law to eliminate adjustment aid and State aid growth limit; allows adjustment to tax levy growth limitation for certain school districts
NJEA is not taking a position at this time. However, we do believe that it is important to outline what we think about this bill and how we believe it could be improved.
S-2 (Sweeney, Thompson, Ruiz, Cunningham)/ A-2 (Coughlin, Greenwald, Jasey, McKeon) would provide a mechanism for allocating State school aid from the 2019-2020 through 2024-2025 school years.
Under the bill, a “State aid differential” is defined as the difference between the amount of State aid that the district received in the prior school year (not including educational adequacy aid and school choice aid) less the sum of equalization aid, special education categorical aid, security categorical aid, and transportation aid as calculated under the “School Funding Reform Act, prior to applying the State aid growth limit. This differential would be calculated for each district annually.
In the case of a school district in which the State aid differential is positive, the differential would be reduced by a certain percentage each school year:
The bill would exempt three groups of school districts from these reductions:
Additionally, in the case of an SDA district that spends above adequacy and is located in a municipality in which the equalized total tax rate exceeds the State average, the total State aid reduction would be limited to the amount by which the district is spending above adequacy multiplied by the percentage for the corresponding school year.
School districts in which the State aid differential is negative would receive an increase in State aid. Specifically, each district would receive a proportionate share of the sum of the total State aid reduction from districts that have a positive State aid differential and any additional revenue included in the annual appropriations act for the purpose of providing direct State aid to school districts.
The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) has indicated that the bill would result in increased school aid costs (so this is not just a reallocation of the current school aid amount). The OLS believes that based on data fromthe FY 2017-2018 school year, nearly 200 school districts would be subject to State school aid reductions while the remaining districts would see aid increases.
The following are bill provisions we believe represent improvements on the idea to simply reallocate specific categories of adjustment aid:
Although the above changes make this bill better, the NJEA would like to note the following concerns:
The NJEA thanks the bill sponsors for keeping school funding front and center in recent years and for their willingness to improve on the original idea and this bill. We agree with the urgency and importance of this issue and ask that the legislature make this bill even better by addressing the concerns outlined above.
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