Funding Formula Revised in N.J.
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flowthrough funds, unless noted.
Just before their 2007-08 legislative session ended in January 2008, New Jersey lawmakers approved a new school funding formula advocated by Gov. Jon Corzine. The governor, a Democrat, signed the measure shortly afterward, but the plan’s implementation is likely to be complicated by legal challenges. ("New Funding Formula in N.J. Faces Hurdles," Jan. 16, 2008.)
The funding formula was the dominant education issue in the Garden State’s legislature in 2007. Other highlights included the addition of a county schools superintendent in each of the state’s 21 counties. Created by a law that took effect in April, the new “super superintendents” have broad power over the 616 local districts’ budgets, including line-item-veto authority and the right to review contracts for top administrators.
They also are obligated to submit consolidation plans, which would be subject to voter approval, including merging elementary or high school districts into K-12 districts. The county superintendents are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Not all had yet been nominated or confirmed by early 2008.
Gov. Corzine also signed into law last year a measure that places a 4 percent cap on how much a district can raise its local property-tax levy to pay for schools. Any proposed increase above that now requires a “supermajority” of 60 percent voter approval.
New Jersey legislators approved a fiscal 2008 budget of $33.5 billion, including $7.3 billion for precollegiate education, a 2.9 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
Vol. 27, Issue 22, Page 16