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, 2011Pandora's box on education ruling
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.The case, Abbott v. Burke, is the latest wrinkle in a funding debate that has stretched over four decades. What's at issue this time is that the state did not fully satisfy the school funding law. In fact, the shortfall in 2010-11 was $1.6 billion. The court ordered the state to pay $500 million to reimburse 31 districts, the poorest communities in the state known as the Abbott districts.
The lack of funding didn't affect just the poorest districts. There are 205 districts where spending is below an adequate amount, as defined by law, where poor students don't qualify for aid under this new decision.
The court could have responded much differently. In a separate opinion, Justice Barry T. Albin recommended funding for all 205 districts, to comply with state law. The New Jersey Association of School Administrators agrees.
The failure to address the full content of the law raises speculation. Could politics be affecting the court's decision?
As of now, the decision has opened a Pandora's box of problems. How will other schools get the money to bring education up to the standard? Where will this come from? Then, how will the Abbott districts spend their new-found money since next year's budgets have already been established and approved?
The final question is: How will New Jersey legislators finalize and finance next year's budget by July 1 — particularly since there is pressure to provide additional funding beyond the court's mandate? Only time will tell.
Richard Bozza, Executive Director
New Jersey Association of School Administrators, Trentonhttp://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5292/is_20110606/ai_n57636579/NJBIZJune 6, 2011BOZZA: Ruling omits needs of all poor studentsIt’s official. The Christie administration and the Legislature violated the constitutional rights of children living in the 31 so-called Abbott school districts. They failed to give these children a “thorough and efficient” education, as required by law.This 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 2010-11 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 everywhere suffered the consequences.
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?The Asbury Park PressJune 1, 2011NJASA Executive Director Bozza discusses the Court Funding Decision on the WOR AM John Gambling Morning Show. Click to here to listen to the podcast!Press of Atlantic City features NJASA Op-Ed regarding the Alternate Route Certification for Superintendents.Latest News Regarding Court Funding DecisionThe suburbs are the big losers in this," said Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex. "It's the worst of all worlds. We have no formula and the only additional funds they've ordered are going to the Abbotts."
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.The Bergen RecordMay 29, 2011New Jersey's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the state to come up with $500 million more to aid certain poor and largely urban school districts next year, finding that the state did not enforce its own law or live up to promises made to the court.
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.The strongly worded, 3-2 ruling requires the additional funds for only the 31 former Abbott districts, which through more than two decades of corrective court orders had come to receive a large share of state aid.The Philadelphia InquirerMay 25, 2011
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.According to the Star Ledger, "Christie says he won't fight N.J. Supreme Court order to add $500M in funding for poor school districts."A must for the success of the United States: Create classrooms of students equipped for the 21st Century