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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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1-30-17 Education in the News

NJ Spotlight--South Jersey School District Ready to Challenge School-Funding Formula in Court

Superintendent no longer willing to wait for Legislature to fix the problem, says ‘We are going to become the aggressor on this issue’

School officials in communities all over New Jersey have complained for years about state education-funding inequities, and now lawmakers are holding a series of hearings on the issue — giving clear indications that they plan to address the school-aid problems in the next state budget.

But that new spending plan won’t go into effect until July, and officials representing the Kingsway Regional School District in South Jersey say they can no longer wait on the State House to fix a system that is shorting their students more than $11 million in state aid this year.

Instead, Kingsway regional superintendent James Lavender said district attorneys will be filing a legal brief this week with the state Supreme Court as they attempt to join a new phase of school-aid litigation that Gov. Chris Christie has been seeking to initiate since last year. But unlike Christie, who wants a complete overhaul of the state school-aid law that was enacted in 2008, the Kingsway district is instead pushing only for the invalidation of a “hold harmless” provision that for years has allowed some districts to avoid losing school aid even as others, including Kingsway, have been shortchanged.


John Reitmeyer | January 30, 2017


Star Ledger--'Ignored' N.J. district enters Christie's legal fight with gusto

WOOLWICH TOWNSHIP -- A long underfunded South Jersey school district has "had enough" and will thrust itself into Gov. Chris Christie's ongoing legal battle over how the state funds its public schools, its superintendent announced Friday. 

In a self-proclaimed "bold stand," Kingsway Regional School District will attempt to intervene in Christie's pending case before the state Supreme Court and demand that special funding created to shield districts from losing money be declared unconstitutional, Superintendent James Lavender said.

The filing will also ask the court to force Christie to follow the state's 2008 school funding formula, he said. 

"We are a historically underfunded school district, and this has been going on for decades down here, and we have been ignored," Lavender said.

Kingsway Regional, which serves fives towns in Gloucester County, has added 1,400 students over the past 15 years and hasn't received enough state aid to cover the growth, Lavender said. Because funding has remained largely flat, the same amount money is divided among more students; and the district's per-pupil state aid has plummeted from about $5,300 in 2001 to about $3,700 this year, he said.


Caitlyn Stulpin and Adam Clark | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on January 27, 2017 at 6:22 PM, updated January 28, 2017 at 12:40 PM


Education Week--State ESSA Plans Seek to Be Ambitious But Achievable

When the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2001, state education leaders hated the law's mandate that every child in the country be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Unrealistic and demoralizing, they called it.

But now that states can set their own goals under the Every Student Succeeds Act—NCLB's replacement—some are proposing to one-up the feds with even more ambitious timelines of their own.

Michigan, for example, which ranks academically in the bottom half of the pack nationally, wants to place in the top 10 in the next 10 years, according to the draft accountability plan it's planning to submit to the U.S. Department of Education.

Maryland has proposed that schools cut big achievement gaps between white students and students of color in half in the next six years. And Hawaii wants to slash its 15 percent average absenteeism rate by more than a third by 2020.

The proposed goals have sparked clashes at ESSA town hall sessions and state board meetings between accountability hawks, those in the anti-testing movement, and teachers' unions as state leaders attempt to strike a balance between rigorous and realistic in setting states' short-term and long-term academic goals.

"This is probably one of the most tricky and most difficult thing to do under the new law," said Kathy Cox, the former superintendent of Georgia, who has worked with states as a consultant in the last year to develop their ESSA plans. "You don't want your goal to be so ambitious that it's unrealistic, but you don't want it to be so realistic that the pace is so gradual that people aren't inspired. It's about finding a delicate balance."


By Daarel Burnette II |January 17, 2017 | Corrected: January 18, 2017


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608