Support Our Students Coalition sending 71 School Districts to Trenton
There will be 71 school districts from all across New Jersey getting bused to the state house tomorrow for Governor Phil Murphy's budget address.
The coalition of a schools advocacy group known as 'Support Our Students' want the governor and state lawmakers to re-work the school funding formula law passed last July so that all districts are receiving the funding they need, and that dozens of them aren't seeing funds get cut.
Michael Harris, the Superintendent of Southampton Schools in Burlington County, is running the SOS group.
"Our goal is to raise awareness," Harris said. "SOS back in December sent a letter to the governor and every legislator in the state asking that they pause state aid reductions pending a review of the formula."
There are dozens of districts forced to scale back on spending and come up with new budget plans after the state took a Robin Hood approach by taking funds from districts doing well or hanging in there and giving it to underfunded schools.
If things remained unchanged Harris warns, the cuts will have major impacts.
"If these state aid reductions are fully in effect, the impact on school districts is really going to be catastrophic and devastating on educational programming and more importantly on our students," Harris said.
The problem isn't with underfunded districts getting this financial boost or that money is being shared to help them out, Harris says it's with several school districts being gutted in order for that to happen which financially crushes them.
"We are not advocating that the formula should be thrown out, we're just saying the formula needs to be re-looked at and studied," Harris said. "We support the fact that legislators are increasing funding for the districts who were previously underfunded. We're not saying as a group that you need to take that money away from them and give it back to us."
Harris says that state aid should be helping every district, not just some, and hurting the rest.
"State aid should not have a negative impact on any student in this state," Harris said. "That should not be a reason for the lack of state aid. The reduction of state aid should not negatively impact students and that's what's going to happen over a period of time."
Harris says some districts are already feeling the impact of these cuts while others have yet to be financially affected.
"Ultimately that negative impact as it starts to build up is just going to reach a point where there's not going to be any choice but to take away from educational programs for the students," Harris said.
SOS plans to keep pushing the issue until talks can pick up and lawmakers take another look at the formula.
"There's not one set solution but our hope is to sit down and work with legislators in coming up with a tool box of solutions that can be implemented and help districts out," Harris said. "We're not looking for the legislators to back track from their commitment to providing additional funding to the schools that were previously underfunded."
Here are the 71 School Districts in the SOS sending buses to Trenton:
- Burlington City
- Lenape Regional
- Medford Township
- Freehold Regional High School
- Manalapan-Englishtown Regional Schools
- Monmouth Regional
- Tinton Falls
- Township of Ocean
- Brick Township
- Jackson Township
- Little Egg Harbor Regional Schools
- Point Pleasant Beach
- Point Pleasant Borough
- Toms River
- Port Republic
Cape May County:
- Lower Cape May Regional Schools
- Lower Township
- Middle Township
- North Wildwood
- Upper Township
- Wildwood Crest
- Kittaninny Regional
- Sandyston - Walpack
- Great Meadows
- North Warren
- Washington Township
- Delsea Regional
- Logan Township
- Washington Township
- Gloucester City
- Haddon Township
- Vineland Township
- Stow Creek
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