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School Funding Formula Focus Of Cerf’s Visit To Bergen County [AUDIO]

Governor Christie’s new school funding formula was the focus of the state education chief’s visit to a Bergen County school Monday.

Stacy Proebstle, Townsquare Media

One of the administration’s proposed changes includes a reduction in funding to districts that serve poor students and students with limited English proficiency, but the plan also increase the base amount of per-pupil funding.

Some Democrats have criticized the plan recently saying it would unfairly punish districts like Newark and Camden.

“That’s simply not true. If you take all of the Abbott districts and you look at our recommendations, they are down..but only by about 1% so it is a relatively small amount. 90% of the districts are getting an increase in state aid this year” said Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf during an informal round table at School 2 in Fort Lee.

In addition, the state would calculate funding based on an average daily attendance figure rather than using an enrollment figure taken on a single pre-determined day.

New Jersey is one of 10 states that still calculate funding based on a single-day count.

The governor has proposed increasing state aid to public schools by 9% over the current year. It calls for $7.8 billion in formula aid for K-12 districts but also trims the extra aid sent to districts to support each at risk child.

“There’s still no evidence that funding alone will close the achievement gap in failing districts. Money is important but how you spend that money is equally if not, more important. We should be putting all of our energy and attention around is the funding schools are getting being spent wisely” said Cerf.

Fort Lee will receive $1,946,449 in state aid under the Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year ’13, which is an increase of $428,847, or 28%, over last year.

Among the changes is also to make cuts of 50 percent to the adjustment aid – money provided to districts to help with any state aid cuts.

“We are trying to migrate towards a more rational and fair program,” Cerf said.

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