OPINION: Funding decision doesn’t live up to state’s own law
STUDENTS in Bergen County are getting the “thorough and efficient” education they are promised by law.
Or are they?
The state Supreme Court ruled late last month that the Christie administration and the Legislature violated the constitutional rights of children living in the 31 poorest communities in the state – known as the Abbott districts. They failed to give these children a quality education.
But even in affluent Bergen County, students were affected. The case, Abbott v. Burke, is the latest wrinkle in a funding debate that has stretched over four decades in New Jersey’s courts.
What’s at issue this time is the fact that the state did not fully satisfy the school funding law. In fact, the funding shortfall in 2010-2011 was $1.6 billion. The lack of funding didn’t affect just the poorest districts. Districts throughout the state were forced to cut staff and programs. Students in Bergen County were among those who suffered the consequences.
In a narrowly divided 3-2 opinion, the court ruled that the state must now provide $500 million in additional funding to these 31 districts. Case closed; or is it?
The Bergen Record
June 7, 2011
By law, each child in New Jersey is entitled to a "thorough and efficient" education. But the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled recently that the state's poorest students failed to receive one, because of under-funding.
In a 3-2 opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state must now provide $500 million in additional funding to the 31 districts originally deemed the state’s poorest. Case closed. Or is it?
School districts are concerned that they're not getting enough state aid to offset property taxes, and lawmakers are concerned about keeping voters happy in an election year, said Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.
"The battle obviously is going on," Bozza said.
However, the justices, in their highly anticipated decision, declined to restore the full amount of the state's aid shortfall - about $1.6 billion - that could have benefited many districts, including others with low-income children.
NJ Spotlight reports: "Court Orders Full Funding for Abbott Districts
Narrow 3-2 Decision Sure to Spark off Controversy and Confrontation"
Read the Supreme Court Decision Abbott v. Burke.