A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled against 16 rural school districts that filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking more funding from the state, according to an article by the NJ Spotlight.
The lawsuit claimed that compared to other New Jersey districts, the rural districts have been underfunded by more than $18 million this year. Some of the rural districts have said that the lack of funding has halted growth on preschool programs and has forced schools to cut extracurricular programs and art classes.
About 8 percent of students in New Jersey attend rural schools and the rural student population has increased in the past few years, according to a recent report from the Rural School and Community Trust. More than 16 percent of rural students in the state qualify for special education, one of the highest rates in the country.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in states like South Carolina, where the state Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of rural districts. In that lawsuit, 30 rural school districts alleged that the state’s funding formula was unfair. In Mississippi, where more than 50 percent of students attend rural schools, 20 urban and rural school districts across the state have joined a lawsuit asking for funds that are owed due to underfunding. Mississippi has only fully funded its schools twice since 1997, the year the current school funding formula was adopted.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.