Sweeney Joins With Bridgeton Educators & Local Officials To Mark Funding Increase
Bridgeton – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman John Burzichelli joined with local officials, educators and others in a community forum to mark the increase in school funding for the Bridgeton School District as the result of the successful effort to include the school funding reform plan in the new state budget.
The Legislature and the governor approved a new spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018 that includes an increased $150 million in school aid statewide as well as the reallocation of $30 million to underfunded districts as the first step towards full funding. Bridgeton will realize an immediate increase of $2.2 million for the 2017/18 school year.
The school system is among the 66 percent of districts in New Jersey receiving less than they should, according to the state aid formula. These districts educate 73 percent of the state’s public school students.
“We achieved an increase in state school aid in the new budget for the first time in nearly a decade and, at the same time, we enacted reforms that will put us on the path for providing fair funding for districts such as Bridgeton that have been shortchanged,” said Senator Sweeney. “This will produce an immediate increase in much needed aid and it will take the first steps in correcting the flaws in the system and to providing full funding for every district in New Jersey.”
Senator Sweeney has also called for annual increases of $100 million for the schools and a millionaire’s tax when the new governor is sworn in January, which will generate more than $600 million dedicated to school funding statewide for the 2018-2019 school year. The funding will produce an additional $5.4 million for Bridgeton next year, which would bring the district to 79 percent of the state formula.
The $100 million boost in funding the school aid formula and the redistribution of adjustment aid is the first step in a plan that calls for further annual increases in formula aid and the gradual reallocation of $600 million from overfunded districts to underfunded districts. This redistribution of hold harmless aid to underfunded school districts will help to eliminate the enrollment growth cap that discriminates against growing school districts in both cities and suburbs.
The budget also adds $25 million for preschool expansion and $25 million in increased funding for Extraordinary Special Education Aid.
“Bridgeton has been with us from the start in the effort to increase state funding and reform the system,” said Assemblyman Burzichelli. “It will have immediate benefits for next year but it will also have long term benefits for Bridgeton and for the entire state. We put the needs of schools and education first and we were willing to put up a fight.”
“This is funding that will go right to the classrooms, giving us more of the resources we need to educate our schoolchildren,” said Dr. Thomasina Jones, Superintendent, Bridgeton School District. “It will help classroom learning and support our efforts to give our schoolchildren a quality education.”
Also participating in the Tuesday evening forum were: Reverend Albert Morgan, President, Bridgeton Board of Education; Mr. Edward Bethea, Vice President, Bridgeton Board of Education; BOE Members Mr. Kenny Smith-Bey Jr., Ms. Mary Peterson, Member, Ms. Angelia Edwards, Member, Mr. Tyrone Williams, Ms. Dulce Gomez, Ms. Ashlee Todd, Member, and Mr. David Gonzalez; Ms. Nicole Albanese, Board Secretary, Mr. Paul C. Kalac, Esq., Solicitor, Ms. Mary Pierce, Treasurer.