Sweeney Joins With Educators & Local Officials In Kingsway To Mark Funding Increase
Woolwich – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro joined with local officials, educators and others today in a community forum to mark the increase in school funding for the Kingsway Regional School System 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. Kingsway will realize an immediate increase of $732, 244 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.
“Kingsway is one of the many districts that were severely underfunded by a system that allocated aid in a disproportionate way,” said Senator Sweeney. “The school funding reform plan that was included in the new state budget will produce an immediate increase in much needed aid and as part of a plan that will lead to greater fairness and equity 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 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 $5.6 million for Kingsway next year, bringing the district to 76 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.
“This is really an historic budget that marks a real achievement for school funding,” said Assemblyman Burzichelli. “It will have immediate benefits for next year but it will also have long term benefits that will shape education in New Jersey for years to come. This was a victory for education. We put the needs of schools and education first and we were willing to put up a fight.”
“The flaws in the school funding system continued to cause problems for years, even though they were intended to be only temporary,” said Assemblyman Taliaferro. “These reforms will correct those flaws and lead to a school funding plan that honors the intent and purpose of the law.”
Kingsway is a regional district that includes students from Swedesboro, South Harrison, East Greenwich, Woolwich and from Logan Township, who attend through a receiver agreement. Dr. James Lavender, the Superintendent of Kingsway, joined with other participants in welcoming the aid increase.
“The successful enactment of the school reform is a success story that will help provide the resources we need to educate our schoolchildren,” said Superintendent Lavender. “It will help classroom learning and support our efforts to give our schoolchildren a quality education.”
“We are now able to follow through with an education funding plan that starts to correct the inequities and flaws that hurt so many districts like ours,” said Jennifer Cavallaro-Fromm, Co-Chair, Kingsway Fair Funding Action Committee. “This will put the reforms into action and help lead to the fair and equitable distribution of aid to all districts in New Jersey.”
Also participating in the forum were: Tom Fromm, Mayor of Swedesboro; Jennifer Cavallaro-Fromm; Kingsway School Board members Jim Mueller, Board President, Dr. Michele Blair, Mia Randazzo, Christine Comerford, Patrick Daley, Pam Roney, Deb Cunningham, Lisa Mordecai-Daniel, Frank Donnelly (Logan Twp. Board President).