I will be testifying before the state Assembly Budget Committee on March 18th in Trenton, NJ. I will demand that the state fully fund the SFRA [School Funding Reform Act] formula so that all our students can get the educational resources they are legally entitled to and required to have by law.
I think it is unimaginable and inconceivable to even entertain the possibility of have a conversation that involves raising Paterson’s taxes to balance the school budget. Especially in light of the fact that the state has failed to fully fund the Paterson school district as it reales to the school funding reform act of 2008. Just to recap:
The School Funding Formula was passed by the legislature in 2008. It was the product of a lengthy dialogue between policymakers and experts about what New Jersey students really need to thrive. That the Governor continues to underfund New Jersey’s schools even as he gives billions in tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations like Prudential, Revel Casinos, and the developers of Xanadu is a real moral failing and a disservice to New Jersey students.
The city has yet to rehire many of its teachers, and class sizes have ballooned out of proportion. The truth is that Paterson is short $16.4 million in funds and would have lost more if the Governor had succeeded in a backdoor attempt to shortchange New Jersey’s poorest students by changing the way education is funded by the state. The legislature, to their credit, stopped Christie’s attempt to permanently change the school funding formula, but it wasn’t enough to save Paterson and other communities from this year’s cuts.
This approach of attacking education is par for the course for Gov. Christie’s, and the problem is much bigger than just Paterson, Trenton, or the so-called ‘Abbott districts.’ Over 200 school districts, urban and suburban, are still funded below adequacy levels and have been slow to restore staff and programming in the wake of Christie’s cuts — the grand total of which amount to a whopping $3.6 billion and I fear that it will sadly increase substantially this year.
It’s absurd that well into Governor Christie’s 2nd term, students and parents continue to struggle while the wealthy and corporations pay lower taxes. Instead of coming up with creative ways to take education funds away from poor children, the Governor should focus instead on finding ways to at last fully fund the formula so that all of New Jersey’s students can get the education they deserve.
I will keep fighting till Paterson is fully funded. Our children deserve it!
School board member