If you live in New Jersey, there’s a good chance your school district is getting cheated.
The state has a formula that says exactly much money it should give each district so kids get the education they deserve. But it hasn’t fully paid in almost a decade, leaving districts to raise taxes, cut jobs and put off new initiatives to make up the difference.
Things may finally be about to change, however.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic lawmakers are working on plans to fully fund that formula within the next few years and remove a cap on much new aid a district can get each year.
If they can get it done, the impact will be huge.
About two-thirds of all districts would see their school funding increase, more than 50 districts would eventually get at least a $10 million boost, and some smaller districts would see their state aid double, triple or even quadruple over time (looking at you, Chesterfield).
That could mean modest property tax reductions (or smaller hikes, at least), fewer budget cuts and more spending on textbooks, technology and other classroom needs.
But before you celebrate, beware of one thing. Some districts already get more than what the formula says they should because lawmakers previously made a deal to prevent districts from losing state dollars.
In order to get every district what it’s owed, the state is considering reducing aid to those “overfunded” districts and reallocating funds to those that have been shorted. It’s the most controversial part of the plan and could lead to local tax hikes or budget cuts.
Time will tell if anything actually changes. For now, underfunded school districts can dream.
Use the search tool below to see how much state funding your district receives now and what it could get if New Jersey fully funds its schools in the future.