These School Districts are Suing NJ Over Cuts to State Aid
As part of a plan to make the distribution of state school aid fairer and more equitable in New Jersey, the state’s school aid formula was modified over the summer.
In response, a group of school districts is banding together to file a lawsuit to challenge the changes.
The formula modification calls for cuts in state aid in districts where enrollment has declined. But the lawsuit will argue the change violates the state constitution, which requires an equal education benefit for all students in New Jersey.
Attorney Mark Talakin, of the Weiner Law Group in Parsippany, says Brick, Jackson, Lacy, and Manalapan-Englishtown school districts have joined forces to participate in the lawsuit, and other districts may soon follow.
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Janet Bamford, the communications manager for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said “the School Funding Reform Act should be implemented and fully funded, and that hasn’t happened in several years. It hasn’t been fully funded or run for about a decade and so inequalities have built up.”
She said the fact that schools are suing over this issue isn’t surprising.
“Several districts kind of had the rug pulled out from under them because they got one set of school aid figures in March and then built their budgets around it, and then this summer found out they were going to get substantially less in some cases.”
Several districts that are slated to receive a cut in state aid have indicated they will be forced to cut programs and lay off staff.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has repeatedly said the changes, which he helped to push through the Legislature, were made to level the playing field and ensure that all Garden State taxpayers are paying their fair share and receiving the aid they are entitled to.
The New Jersey Department of Education has not commented on the pending lawsuits.