New Jersey Gov. Christie Proposes to Slash Urban Districts’ Funding

By Daarel Burnette II — June 24, 2016 1 min read
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New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie has proposed to flatten the state’s funding formula by equalizing the amount of money it distributes for poor and wealthy students, according to the New Jersey Star Ledger. The revision, proposed at a high school in a New York City suburb Tuesday, would serve as a major blow to the state’s urban districts which have a high concentration of students living in poverty.

Some districts, such as Newark, would lose as much as $14 million, or 69 percent of their state funding, according to an analysis released by Gov. Christie’s office.

The proposal received swift backlash.

Meanwhile, the state’s suburban districts stand to receive millions more in funding. For example, the North Caldwell Boro school system will receive $6 million more in funds, a 1,714 percent increase (not a typo).

Urban and impoverished rural districts have long argued in court that poor kids are more difficult—and expensive—to teach and often invest their money into wraparound services such as counseling, after-school tutoring programs and smaller class sizes.

New Jersey’s funding formula gives extra money to students with special needs and students whose parents fall below the poverty line. While districts would still receive more money for students with special needs under Gov. Christie’s proposal, they would no longer receive extra funds for educating poor children.

Gov. Christie wants the legislature to place the proposed formula on the 2017 ballot. The state’s funding formula is constitutionally mandated.

As for the cuts to urban districts, he told, “They get a big check from the state every year, they are not making any changes in the way they educate children and they are not showing any increase in success.”

New Jersey districts are one of the first to successfully sue the state over their funding formula. In fact, in 1976, the state supreme court shut down the school system for eight days in order to get the state’s legislature to increase school funding.

Sound familiar, Kansas?

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.