No school district in New Jersey will receive less aid than last year, and many will see an increase under Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed 2018-19 school aid plan released earlier this month.
Schools in The Press of Atlantic City’s coverage area, on average, will receive some of the lowest increases, according to county aid totals.
While Murphy has proposed a 3.1 percent increase for Atlantic County schools in his first budget, schools in Cumberland, Cape May and Ocean counties each would receive less than 2 percent more in aid. The state average was 3.5 percent, with the largest bump going to Union County.
Locally, Egg Harbor Township and Bridgeton will see the largest increase in aid at $2.1 million and $3.9 million, respectively. The majority of Bridgeton’s aid increase is in the category of adequacy aid, which is aid that fills in the gap for districts considered spending less than what is adequate and cannot raise those funds without exceeding the 2 percent cap.
Egg Harbor Township Board of Education President Pete Castellano said that this year’s increase coupled with last year’s — at $1.5 million — is helping the district keep its current programs with a smaller than normal tax increase.
“Our team lobbied hard for the increase, and we are happy to be getting it. However, the formula calls for us to be receiving $67 million in state aid. This increases our number from the flat $40 million to $43.5 million. Still $23.5 million short,” Castellano said.
He said that last year the district had to eliminate 41 positions to keep the budget at the 2 percent cap. This year, the board is anticipating a 2.5-cent tax increase, which is the lowest increase in four years.
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“Our spending per student is among the lowest in the state and the area, and our budget remained at $8 million bellow state adequacy. This year’s increase is a good start toward full funding, but only allows us to maintain what we have,” Castellano said.
Both Hammonton and Atlantic City will see an additional $1.2 million in aid over last year.
Several area districts are not receiving any increase in aid, including Buena Regional, Port Republic, Cape May City, Dennis Township, Lower Cape May Regional, Commercial Township and Downe Township.
Vineland, which last year lost $2 million in aid, will see a slight bump of $417,121. Vineland school business administrator Helen Haley said that the district is proposing to apply the additional aid toward appropriations, but it is still operating well below the aid it was originally supposed to receive.
“This additional aid is not exactly an increase from last year because we were one of the districts that received a reduction in state aid in July 2017,” Haley said.
Another district that lost thousands in last year’s budget, Pleasantville, will see an additional $236,933 in aid.
Of $14.9 billion in proposed state support for schools, the governor has proposed a large increase in preschool funding. Under Murphy’s plan, districts that currently operate a state-supported preschool program will see an increase of nearly $33 million in per-pupil funding, and preschool expansions that were established this year will be made permanent. The budget includes $25 million more in preschool expansion aid for the development of new programs to serve more than 3,500 children.
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Murphy hopes his budget, which increases formula aid by $283.6 million, will be a step toward fulfilling the state’s school-funding obligation.
“Even with these investments, we know our current school funding formula, enacted in 2008, needs to be modernized, and I ask you to work with me to make these changes so we can reach this goal of full, fair funding by the 2021-22 school year,” Murphy told legislators during his budget address March 13.
Murphy has proposed eliminating aid categories not originally included in the school funding formula that were created over the past several years. His proposed budget reallocates the money back to the same districts through the school funding formula.
The budget also proposes a $2 million grant program to help high schools implement college-level computer science courses and a $66 million increase in school security aid. Nonpublic schools also will receive $75 per student in school security funding.
Proposed preschool aid 2018-19 school year
|Field 1||Field 2||Field 3|
|Hunterdon||High Bridge Boro||6,600|
|Salem||Upper Pittsgrove Twp||16,500|
|Burlington||New Hanover Twp||23,868|
|Cape May||North Wildwood City||40,122|
|Hudson||East Newark Boro||46,541|
|Union||Scotch Plains-Fanwood Reg||49,500|
|Middlesex||South Plainfield Boro||52,800|
|Cape May||Cape May City||90,582|
|Bergen||Little Ferry Boro||92,400|
|Ocean||Seaside Heights Boro||99,328|
|Burlington||Edgewater Park Twp||100,240|
|Gloucester||National Park Boro||110,256|
|Ocean||Ocean Gate Boro||138,400|
|Camden||Pine Hill Boro||152,532|
|Cumberland||Maurice River Twp||183,901|
|Passaic||Prospect Park Boro||212,175|
|Morris||Morris School District||234,300|
|Atlantic||Somers Point City||238,419|
|Bergen||Cliffside Park Boro||274,400|
|Middlesex||Highland Park Boro||282,976|
|Cape May||Lower Twp||313,908|
|Monmouth||Bradley Beach Boro||335,920|
|Atlantic||Egg Harbor City||360,300|
|Cumberland||Upper Deerfield Twp||452,620|
|Cape May||Woodbine Boro||685,440|
|Salem||Penns Grv-Carney'S Pt Reg||699,546|
|Somerset||Bound Brook Boro||719,882|
|Middlesex||South Amboy City||720,738|
|Cape May||Wildwood Crest Boro||758,880|
|Cape May||Middle Twp||786,520|
|Cape May||Wildwood City||1,003,680|
|Somerset||North Plainfield Boro||2,357,552|
|Hudson||North Bergen Twp||2,611,533|
|Monmouth||Red Bank Boro||3,616,325|
|Ocean||Little Egg Harbor Twp||3,894,530|
|Monmouth||Asbury Park City||7,811,335|
|Monmouth||Long Branch City||9,379,920|
|Essex||City Of Orange Twp||10,277,833|
|Hudson||West New York Town||14,993,322|
|Middlesex||New Brunswick City||20,285,173|
|Middlesex||Perth Amboy City||20,425,752|
Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe
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