On Jan. 27, the Senate Select Committee on School Funding Fairness held its first public hearing at Kingsway Regional High School in Woolwich, Gloucester County, as part of a renewed effort within the state Legislature to reform New Jersey’s school funding formula.

The committee, which was created by Senate resolution in January, plans to hold additional upcoming meetings in Bergen, Essex, and Middlesex counties.

At the Kingsway meeting, many testified concerning the current school funding formula, including Christopher Jones of the NJSBA’s governmental relations department. His comments focused on two concerns: First, that any examination of over-adequacy districts be sensitive to the difference between districts overfunded per the formula, and districts that have chosen to go beyond an adequate budget by raising additional funds through their local levy, and that these districts should not be adversely treated due to their local decision to exceed adequacy.

The second concern raised was that the committee keep in mind that although the original School Funding Reform Act anticipated districts eventually phasing out of receiving Adjustment Aid, the 2 percent tax levy cap did not exist when this plan was conceived. Consequently, under current law, any districts who may see aid reduced would be constrained in their ability to replace any such funds; and the committee should give due consideration to possible waivers or other avenues of revenue replacement for any districts who may receive less aid.

The full text of NJSBA’s Jan. 27 testimony is available here.

As the issue of school funding takes center stage in the state, the Assembly Education Committee also held a public hearing, on January 17 in the State House. That committee also plans to hold three additional hearings outside Trenton.

Following is a list of hearings that have been scheduled to date by both the Senate Select Committee on School Funding Fairness and the Assembly Education Committee. Others may be added to the schedule. Members of the public, and local school board members, are permitted to testify.

  • The Assembly Education Committee (AEC) will meet on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Bergen County Administration Building, Freeholder Public Meeting Room, 5th Floor, One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601.
  • The AEC will also hold a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Conference Center, Camden County Technical Schools, Gloucester Twp. Campus, 343 Berlin Cross Keys Road, Sicklerville, New Jersey 08081. The committee will receive testimony from members of the public regarding the “School Funding Reform Act of 2008,” P.L.2007, c.260, and other matters related to education funding in the State.
  • The Senate Select Committee (SSC) on School Funding Fairness will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 at 11 a.m. in The Parkview Room, West Hall, Middlesex County College, 2600 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison, New Jersey 08837. The committee will receive testimony from invited guests and from members of the public on inequities in school funding in New Jersey.
  • The SSC will hold another public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017 at 11 a.m. in Paul Robeson Campus Center, Essex East, Room 232, Rutgers University, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, Newark, New Jersey 07102.

Persons wishing to testify at any of these hearings should register with the Office of Legislative Services at (609) 847-3850 and should submit 15 copies of written testimony on the day of the hearing.  Oral testimony will be limited to three minutes.  Persons who are not presenting oral testimony may submit 15 copies of written testimony for consideration by the committee and inclusion in the record.

For the Feb. 7 hearing, persons wishing to testify can also register online at www.njleg.state.nj.us and click on the Assembly Education Committee for 2/7/17.