NEW JERSEY ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Press Release: For Immediate Release
Voters seem to understand difficult choices districts face in wake of budget cuts
TRENTON, N.J. — May 12, 2011 — Nearly 80 percent of New Jersey’s school budgets passed in the recent election, indicating voter understanding of the difficult choices that districts faced in the wake of state cuts, according to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. But because school budgets were held to just a 2 percent increase, districts still may face cuts in services and staff.
“Most districts proposed budgets at or below the 2 percent tax cap that the state legislature imposed last year,” noted Dr. Bozza, executive director of the NJASA. “By passing those budgets, voters put their districts—which are still reeling from massive state cuts—back on the road to recovery. However, school districts will continue to be challenged by cost factors beyond local control, such as the increasing price of fuel and insurance, placing themselves yet again in the difficult position of reducing support for instruction, athletics and student activities to remain below the cap.”
The State provides only 42% of the total revenue required to operate New Jersey schools. Local taxes remain the primary source of school funding for the 2,500 public schools serving New Jersey’s 1.4 million public school students. In spite of a $250 million increase proposed in overall school funding for next year, school districts are still feeling the effects of the $1.3 billion state funding shortfall imposed over the past year.
Dr. Bozza noted that though the majority of budgets passed, voter turnout was low. “This is an historic problem of getting voters out for the school elections,” he noted. “Unlike municipal, county and state budgets, school budgets come before voters each spring. It would help tremendously with voter turnout if we could move the vote to Election Day in November. Then, we would be able to hear the ‘voice’ of more of New Jersey’s residents.”
“We also can eliminate the school budget vote altogether if districts stay within the approved 2 percent cap,” he added. “We would only need to vote if they wanted to exceed that number, just as municipalities are required to do.”
Background on Budget Cuts
The New Jersey Association of School Administrators is an organization of chief education officers and school administrators who lead school districts in New Jersey’s 21 counties. The association’s mission is to ensure a superior statewide system of education. Through ongoing professional training and education, the association shares knowledge among its members about best practices from both educational and administrative perspectives. Its goal is to move education forward by ensuring the highest quality of instruction for all New Jersey children.
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