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News Articles
Property taxes fuel debates - Assocaited Press Jan 3 2007

The idea of abolishing 600 school districts in favor of one for each county has faded in favor of a proposal to create “super” county school superintendents to oversee local school officials and spending.

Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services, said today another proposal - shifting fire district elections and budget votes from a Saturday in February to the November general election - is being crushed under heavy lobbying by firefighters.

And a third idea, to have a state-level board recommend municipal and school district consolidations, remained unsettled today as legislators debated how to give voters the final say.

The proposals come as the committee prepares its final report of more than 100 pages on ways to reduce New Jersey property taxes.

“Everybody has been discussing, discussing, discussing,” Smith said. “We are coming to a general consensus on what is doable and what is not doable.”

Contributed by Tom Hester6-24-11 Democrat Budget Proposal brings aid to all districts
njspotlight.com - Millionaire's Tax Makes a Comeback - as a School-Funding Vehicle - Surcharge on the wealthy would deliver additional aid to New Jersey's wealthiest school districts... "When the state Supreme Court in May ordered that New Jersey’s highest-poverty districts be fully funded under the school finance law, their ruling had an unintended consequence. Democratic legislative leaders began openly grappling with the question as to which other districts might qualify for additional money. Yesterday, they came up with an answer: All of them...They're counting, however, on a political gambit to make all the money available...

...$447 million to fully fund the 31 districts falling under the Abbott v. Burke rulings, as ordered by the state Supreme Court and agreed to by both parties;

$580 million for an estimated 215 other districts that are spending less than what the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) of 2008 deems "adequate;"

$87 million for the balance of the state’s nearly 600 districts, although details were unclear to how this money would be distributed...

But there had been quiet backlash to that idea from some advocates and legislators. They maintain that other districts are just as needy, especially in light of rising special education costs and steep funding cuts over the past year.

School advocates learning of the budget news in the late afternoon sounded pleased with the initial piece of the plan, the $1.1 billion in new money that will serve a range of schools.

"It's good news that it will reach all districts," said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a suburban school organization. "All districts are in distress, and we are thankful."

She and others were warier about the fate of the remainder of the funds that were linked to the millionaire’s tax. (These funds would be used to fully fund the formula to the remainder of the districts, primarily sub urban.)

"When you go that way, it's a political or partisan tug of war," she said. "We’d hope the children would be above the partisan politics."..."

4-29-11 BOOMERANG! Near 80 per cent of School Budgets Passed in Wednesday'sSchool Elections
Press of Atlantic City - Some school budgets defeated in Wednesday's vote had no tax hikes

Njspotlight.com - Garden State Voters Approve 80 Percent of School Budgets...Light voter turnout revives various plans to move school elections to a more auspicious date

Star Ledger - Nearly 80 percent of N.J. school budgets pass, representing highest rate in a decade

4-21-11 Supreme Court hears school funding argument
Wall Street Journal - Court Weighs Funding

Nj.spotlight.com - As Abbott Returns to Supreme Court, Familiar Faces Play Pivotal Roles

Courier Post On-Line - Supreme Court Justies Hear School Funding Case Statehouse Bureau - Poll: Most NJ residents want more education spending, but not by Supreme Court order

Nj.com - Advocate tells N.J. Supreme Court state aid cuts deprived children of adequate education

4-14-11 Governor Releases Legislation to Address Education Reform Package
4-14-11 Star Ledger, nj.com - Christie proposes education reform bills that would eliminate current tenure system for teachers… "Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group of about 100 suburban districts, said Christie’s proposals will prompt "a real dialogue and conversation" about education reform in New Jersey. She said a number of "stumbling blocks" from teachers’ perspectives, including the proposed changes to teacher compensation and the evaluation process based on assessment. "The details in the legislation are going to be dramatically important," Strickland said. "That’s why it’s clear this is going to be hashed out. It should be, because this is significant change."

Njspotlight.com - Gov. Christie Offers First Peek at Education Reform Bills

4-8-11 Education Issues in the News
Star Ledger - N.J. lawyers, advocates for poor students gear up for N.J. Supreme Court hearing on school funding

Njspotlight.com – 1) Christie's Tenure Reform Remains A Work in Progress, and, 2)Fine Print: Abbott Briefs With the latest filings in the Abbott v. Burke school equity case, both plaintiffs and defendants are ready for oral arguments

Courier Post - Views split on charter schools

Newsroomnewjersey.com - Poll: Black voters strong supporters of Gov. Christie's plan for charter school expansion

4-7-11 Early news coverage & press releases - Governor's Brooking Inst. presentation on his education reform agenda
Philadelphia Inquirer,Christie Chronicles - In NYC, Christie pushes education reform plan, trashes unions

Star Ledger - Gov. Christie says reforming teacher tenure, improving student achievement come before his political career

The Record - Gov. Christie pushes education agenda in Manhattan appearance

Governor's Releases on his Education Reform Agenda 2011

3-25-11 Education Week on School Cutbacks Around The Nation
Published Online: March 25, 2011 'Budget Cuts Hitting Deeper in Districts Nationwide' Even in the midst of an economic downturn, there were some programs that Superintendent Robert P. Grimesey believed his district in Orange County, Va., would never have to cut. But over the past two years, those programs have fallen by the wayside. ...

2-7-11 Education - and Controversy - in the News
Njspotlight.com ‘Three Key Questions About the Opportunity Scholarship Act’

The Record ‘Scholarship act clears legislative hurdle’ Star Ledger ‘Braun: Vouchers hearing is latest political gimmick masquerading as school reform’

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Op-Ed ‘Setting New Jersey students free’Op-Ed, G Norcross

Njspotlight.com ‘Filling the Top Slot for Newark's Troubled Schools’

Star Ledger ‘N.J. education chief Chris Cerf, Mayor Cory Booker present findings on Newark schools reform’

Star Ledger ‘Speaking at NJEA conference, U.S. Sen. Menendez says it's time to stop blaming teachers’

12-5-10 Sunday News - Education-related Issues
Star Ledger ‘Gov. Christie, Democratic lawmakers remain deadlocked on latest property tax cap reforms’

The Auditor/The Star-Ledger ‘Democrats weren’t the only ones out of the loop’

Anybody there? The exodus of senior staffers at the state Department of Education has turned into stampede, frustrating local school leaders who say it is undercutting chances of reform. “It’s a threadbare department and it’s been rendered useless by the governor,” one superintendent told The Auditor...An exaggeration? Not by much...This week deputy commissioner Willa Spicer will retire. Several division directors have left in recent weeks and months, including Janis Jensen (academic standards), Roberta Wohle (special education) and Sandra Alberti (math and science). Five of the six assistant commissioners have left, leaving only Barbara Gantwerk at that level...“This is a big deal,” says Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “How can they possibly push reforms? Who’s going to really understand it[reform intiatives] and carry it out so it has even a chance?...”

10-8-10 Education Issue in the News
Njspotlight.com ‘Teacher Seniority Policy Continues to Vex Administration Attempts at Reform’ br

The Record – Columnist Alfred ‘Doblin: Waiting for Superman, finding Clark Kent’

Star Ledger ‘Ex-education chief Schundler openly blames Gov. Christie for Race to the Top loss’

9-1-10 Education in the News
Njspotlight.com ‘Race to the Top Consultant Earned $500,000 for Two Failed Bids’

Star Ledger, ‘N.J. Democrats push for hearing on Race to the Top error, despite Christie's call to move on’

8-27-10 later morning - breaking news: Statehouse Bureau ‘Gov. Chris Christie fires N.J. schools chief Bret Schundler’
(GSCS: We are concerned for the stability of quality education more than ever...this turmoil of leadership is worriesome - especially at this time of year with the opening of schools, the unknown of the $268M in federal funding that could help our schools if forthcoming to all, the status various policies of a system-changing education reform agenda, continuing recession and school aid in flux - GSCS will work hard to help keep NJ education on balance during this turmoil and will work to see that it remains as stable as possible.

TRENTON — "Gov. Chris Christie fired state education commissioner Bret Schundler this morning after Schundler refused to resign in the wake of the controversy over the state's loss of up to $400 million in federal school funding, two officials briefed on the situation said. Christie's chief of staff, Richard Bagger, ordered Schundler to turn in his resignation Thursday night after federal officials released a video that appeared to contradict the commissioner's account of what transpired when the New Jersey delegation met with the federal officials to review funding application and review process..."

8-27-10 Star Ledger ‘U.S. officials refute Christie on attempt to fix Race to the Top application during presentation’


8-25-10 Race to the Top articles - the 'day after' news analysis
Njspotlight.com ‘New Jersey Finishes Just Out of the Money in Race to the Top’ Only three points kept NJ out of the winner’s circle, but a close review of its application reveals many categories where it came up short...

Star Ledger ‘N.J. 'Race to the Top' application wrong-year error is revealed in federal documents’

Asbury Park Press ‘NJ doesn't make federal school grant winner list’

8-16-10 Senate Education hears 'for discussion only' comments re expanding charter school authorization process; Commissioner Schundler relays education priorities to the Committee
(GSCS joined other education associations with comments and concerns about the bill. Issues were noted about language in the proposed bill that would allow for speciality charter schools, e.g., limited to single gender or behavioral disorders - autism for one - and that the Commissioner should encourage such charter entities. During the hearing, the Committee Chair, Senator Theresa Ruiz, said that those concepts would be separated out of the bill and undertaken on their own at a later date.)

'N.J. education commissioner says more school days, class time are good for kids' The Record

State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler told lawmakers Monday that many New Jersey school children could benefit from more days in school and more time in class.

Schundler’s comments came as he spoke to the Senate Education Committee about his vision for making sure all students master essential skills, as well as a bill... [that]Schundler said he supported having multiple charter authorizers because it could spur innovation, broaden families’ choices and relieve the Education Department of some of its workload, but other institutions should also be able to apply for the job. Now, only the Education Department can approve charters, which are publicly financed and independently operated..."

Statehouse Bureau 'N.J. education head says multiple organizations should be able to authorize charter schools'

8-13-10 East Brunswick Public School seeks stay on Hatikvah Charter School opening this fall (re: Hatikvah not meeting minimum enrollment requirement)
Immediate Release - "The East Brunswick Board of Education filed a motion with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey asking the Court to “stay” the New Jersey Commissioner of Education’s grant of the charter to the Hatikvah International Charter School. The Board of Education also filed a motion with the Commissioner of Education asking him to “stay” his approval of Hatikvah’s charter..."

7-3-10 Governor Christie and Legislative leaders reached agreement today on a 2% property tax cap with 4 major exemptions
From Star Ledger breaking news 7-3-10 p.m.:
TRENTON — The governor and legislative leaders have struck a deal on property tax reform that includes a 2 percent cap on annual increases with four exceptions, three sources with knowledge of the negotiations said.

"...The four exceptions are rising costs of pensions and health care, school enrollment increases and debt payments. Towns would also be granted leeway in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster, two sources said..."

7-1 and 2- 10 Governor Christie convened the Legislature to address property tax reform
On July 1, the Governor delivered an address to a Joint Session of the legislature that began with compromise on his 2.5% property tax cap proposal: he would drop the mandated constitutional amendment. However, he would hold tight on limited exceptions; only a popular vote could override the cap.

Also, the Governor noted that he could support exemptions for capital expenditures and debt service as well as a temporary exemptions for collective bargaining agreements that currently are in place; when the current contract expires than the cap exemption would expire. These are the only exemptions in his current proposal.

Legislature leadership responded, setting up meetings for Friday, July 2: 1) Assembly Budget hearing at 10 a.m. on the subject, and 2) Senate Budget & Appropriations meeting at 8 a.m. to determine schedule and process for property tax reform summer of 2010.

Click on More below to see GSCS Initial Comments submitted to Assembly Budget Committee for todya's Jul2 hearing; and articles on this unique Special Session.

politickernj.com ‘Christie offers compromise; supports 2.5% statutory cap’

Star Ledger ‘N.J. legislative session kicks off property tax cap showdown’

GSCS On the Scene in Trenton: State Budget poised to pass late Monday...Cap Proposals, Opportunity Scholarship Act in Limbo
GSCS 'On the scene in Trenton' - On Wednesday the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee passed the State Budget bill (S3000) and the Assembly Budget Committee passed its counterpart A3000 on Thursday.... S3000/A3000 are scheduled now to be voted on for final passage this Monday.....at the end of the week, the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee also passed S29, Senate President Sweeney's 2.9% cap bill..... On Friday, the Assembly passed A3065 McKeon-Barnes which is the identical companion bill to S29. FYI S29/A3065, now poised for a final session vote this Monday, 'Reduces school district, county, and municipal property tax levy cap from 4% to 2.9% and permits unused school district, county, and municipal increases to be banked for three succeeding years' (Identical bill A3065 McKeon-Barnes).)...

The Democrat's cap bill S29/A3305 is somewhat more responsive to concerns of schools than the Governor's 2.5% cap proposal in that it does allows for Commissioner cap waivers, however all waivers must be based solely on a district's "failure to meet core curriculum content standards [T & E];another difference is that this bill "eliminates the ability of a ...school district to submit a public question to the voters to exceed the allowable tax levy"; "in the case of a school district it would allow cap banking of any portion of the permitted 2.9% increase plus applicable adjustments not used by the school district in a budget year'; S29/A3065 also does not require a constitutional amendment, which should provide more flexibility to adjust to potential issues that may occur in the future; a notable difference from the Governor's proposal is that S29 focuses only on local spending, while the Governor proposals a corresponding 2.5% cap on state spending as well as local spending..... Some folks in the Trenton halls believe that the Governor will immediatley veto it S29/A3065 it if does pass.....GSCS has concerns about S29/A3065, in particular that it does not allow for a voter override, nor has its precipitous timing allowed for viable debate and analysis.....

Legislative leadership has talked of holding "hearings in July but with no specific mention of what bills could be heard then, including the Governor's cap proposal but we are hearing that is likely.....

FYI, as of Thursday night, the Opportunity Scholarship bill (S1872)- while the subject of heated, informal pro and con debate int the Statehouse all day Thursday - was not posted for a hearing, or a vote, in either house...

It remains to be seen what, if anything will come of S1872 this summer. For S29 Statement click here on

6-28-10 State Budget tops the news today
Asbury Park Press ‘$28B proposed budget signals "new normal" for N.J.’

Star Ledger ‘N.J. lawmakers are expected to vote on Gov. Christie's budget, property tax cap plans’

The Record ‘N.J. pays the price for past budgets’

GSCS On the Scene in Trenton: Cap Proposals, Opportunity Scholarship Act in Limbo
GSCS 'On the scene in Trenton' - On Wednesday the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee passed the State Budget bill (S3000) and the Assembly Budget Committee passed its counterpart A3000 ont Thursday. S3000/A3000 are scheduled now to be voted on for final passage this Monday; the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee also passed S29, Senate President Sweeney's 2.9% cap bill.....

On Friday, the Assembly passed A3065 McKeon-Barnes which is the identical companion bill to S29. FYI S29/A3065, now poised for a final session vote this Monday, 'Reduces school district, county, and municipal property tax levy cap from 4% to 2.9% and permits unused school district, county, and municipal increases to be banked for three succeeding years' (Identical bill A3065 McKeon-Barnes).)...

The Democrat's cap bill S29/A3305 is somewhat more responsive to concerns of schools than the Governor's 2.5% cap proposal in that it does allows for Commissioner cap waivers, however all waivers must be based solely on a district's "failure to meet core curriculum content standards [T & E];another difference is that this bill "eliminates the ability of a ...school district to submit a public question to the voters to exceed the allowable tax levy"; "in the case of a school district it would allow cap banking of any portion of the permitted 2.9% increase plus applicable adjustments not used by the school district in a budget year'; S29/A3065 also does not require a constitutional amendment, which should provide more flexibility to adjust to potential issues that may occur in the future; a notable difference from the Governor's proposal is that S29 focuses only on local spending, while the Governor proposals a corresponding 2.5% cap on state spending as well as local spending..... Some folks in the Trenton halls believe that the Governor will immediatley veto it S29/A3065 it if does pass.....

Legislative leadership has talked of holding "hearings in July but with no specific mention of what bills could be heard then, including the Governor's cap proposal.....
FYI, as of Thursday night, the Opportunity Scholarship bill (S1872)- while the subject of heated, informal pro and con debate int the Statehouse all day Thursday - was not posted for a hearing in either house... It remains to be seen what, if anything will come of S1872 this summer. For S29 Statement click here on

6-23-10 Trenton News: State Budget on the move...Education Issues
Politickernj.com ‘Senate commitee to take up budget discussion Wednesday’

The Record ‘N.J. Senate to hold hearing on budget today’

Star Ledger ‘Gov. Christie to review proposed changes to N.J. school-choice bill’

Asbury Park Press ‘Senator: School choice bill should let lawmakers opt out’

njspotlight.com ‘From Senator's Old Neighborhood, Close-up View of School Voucher Bill’

Editorial ‘Stick to the lesson plan: Tie federal school bailout to reform’

6-11-10 In the News: State Budget moving ahead on schedule
'Parties quietly resolve budget differences' Phildadelphia Inquirer Trenton Bureau

TRENTON - "A budget season that began with bold declarations of ideology and promises of high drama appears headed toward a relatively quiet resolution, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreeing there simply isn't much money to fight over..."

6-10-10 Op-Ed in Trenton Times Sunday June 6 2010
'What ought to be next on governor's to-do list'

by Richard F. Keevey - Keevey is the director of the Policy Research Institute for the Region at Princeton University. He was state budget director and comptroller under two New Jersey governors (under both Democratic and Republican administrations; he also served in Washington D.C. under the Clinton Administration).

"Several weeks after the governor's election, I suggested in several venues that, given the state's finances, the governor would have no choice but to make significant reductions.

I suggested that transit subsidies would be reduced; school and municipal aid would be significantly reduced; and, although it poses a moral dilemma, Medicaid and other social services programs would be reduced. Unfortunately -- but inevitably -- most of these reductions are in the budget, and I am certain they will remain standing...Personally, I might have made some choices different from those the governor made, but, basically, he had few options -- otherwise, the state would be headed for massive disaster."

6-8-10 Education issues in the news today - including 'hold' on pension reform, round two
‘Gov. Chris Christie backs off plans to push N.J. teachers to retire early’ Statehouse Bureau- The Record & Ledger

‘State, school districts can learn lessons from roll-out of new alternate high school test’ StarLedger Editorial

‘N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's rant reveals a hard-right agenda’ Column-Star Ledger

6-8-10 (posted) Education & Related Issues in the News
‘Parties hash out N.J. budget deal’Statehouse Bureau - The Record

‘State shouldn't dictate how districts spend any teacher contract savings’ Star Ledger Editorial

‘Two strikes on the batter, Bret Schundler’The Auditor-Star Ledger

‘In Depth: Can NJN weather cutoff of state aid?’ Gannett State Bureau

6-4-10 Education News
‘N.J. education commissioner Schundler: 'I made a mistake'

‘Schundler says he will continue to support Gov. Christie's education plan’

‘Schundler violated Christie's No. 1 rule’

‘In 'Race to the Top,' a false start by Education Comissioner Bret Schundler’

4-23-10 Education issues remain headline news
‘School Budget Woes’ by Michael P. Riccards, Executive Director, The Hall Institute

'Christie says voters against school budgets are for him' Associated Press

'N.J. towns, schools are urged to consult unions on failed budget reviews' Star Ledger

4-22-10 School Elections - in the News Today
Philadelphia Inquire 'High turnout in many N.J. school races'

polictickernj.com 'Claiming victory in school budgets defeat, Christie urges governing bodies to seek wage freezes from teachers'

northjersey.com 'Christie claims mandate for school budget reforms'

politickernj.com 'Sweeney says Christie scapegoated teachers - and won'
Drewniak says Senate President should take some responsibility for mess
Editorials: The Record: Budget lessons …Asbury Park Press…The Record – Stile… The Star Ledger

4-6-10 'Gov. Chris Chrisite extends dealdine for teacher salary concessions'
Statehouse Bureau "...Christie said 115 of the state's approximately 600 districts have implemented some form of wage freeze for teachers, administrators, staff or some combination of those employees. Last week, when he announced the proposal, the governor initially gave districts until Monday -- when they submitted school budgets to the state -- to accomplish a freeze.

Today, he said districts and their local employee unions that agree to freeze salaries between now and when the state budget must be passed on June 30 would still get money back. School budgets go to local voters for approval on April 20..."

4-6-10 'NJ school layoffs, program cuts boost attention to Apri 20 votes
Star-Ledger - With New Jersey school districts planning layoffs and sweeping cuts to services, school budget elections are the talk of most towns as the April 20 vote nears...Gov. Chris Christie believes the cuts are necessary to help clean up the state’s historic budget mess. He’s called on districts to engage in "a fight worth having" by re-negotiating teacher contracts, which call for raises of more than 4 percent. But even if districts and teachers agree to pay freezes or other givebacks, the cuts will be painful. Some sports teams and other extracurricular activities are on the chopping block. Class sizes will most likely increase.

And it could get even worse. If voters reject property tax hikes..."

4-2-10 Press of Atlantic City lists county impact re: school aid reduction
Click on more here for the Press' full list and descriptions

4-2-10 'On Titanic, NJEA isn't King of the World'
Friday, April 2, 2010 - RECORD EDITORIAL COLUMNIST "...The NJEA either can hold firm while it watches hundreds of its members lose jobs or it can blink and save many union jobs while gaining credibility with taxpayers. The answer is so easy to see. But the same might have been said on April 14, 1912, about a large chunk of ice."

4-1-10 Courier Post article reports on Burlington and Camden County district budgets
'Schools take 'drastic steps' after state aid reduced' School budgets will be voted on April 20. Read about issues in Moorestown, HaddonTownship, Collingswood, Cherry Hill, Camden, Washington Township

4-1-10 Education in the News today
Get the flavor of what's going on in school districts - the pressures and constraints they face with nearly $1B reducation in state aid; the concerns for leveling down quality education and increasing property taxes riding in the balance - as they prepare school budgets for the April 20th vote. Scan MORE EDUCATION HEADLINES IN THE NEWS TODAY - Click on More below and see 30 more headlines gleaned from today's papers

4-1-10 New Initiatives outlined to encourage wage freezes - reaction
'State offers teachers a break on benefits contributions if they accept pay freeze' Press of Atlantic City
"...For any contract negotiated before May 22, employees will not have to pay 1.5 percent medical...For any current contract for which a one-year extension with no salary increases for 2010-11 has been granted, employees will not have to pay 1.5 percent medical...For any new contract negotiated after May 22, employees will have to pay 1.5 percent medical..."

'N.J. teachers who revise contracts get break on benefits fee, state memo says' Star Ledger continuous news desk

"...New Jersey public school teachers who accept revised contracts by May 22 don't have to contribute 1.5 percent of their pay for health benefits for the 2010-11 school year, giving school staff an incentive to take a wage freeze or smaller raises..."

'N.J. teachers union is skeptical of Gov. Christie's letters on wage freeze' By Statehouse Bureau Staff

"...Twice in the past eight days, Christie has written to Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, to encourage her to endorse his proposal that teachers accept one-year wage freezes. But Steve Baker, a spokesman for the NJEA, was skeptical. He said the organization was rebuffed when it invited the governor to meet with its leaders shortly after Christie was elected in November..."If it was a genuine attempt to reach out to the NJEA, he would have made an attempt to reach out and have a discussion, not just send out a letter he released to the press," Baker said...

We are waiting for a sign, a smoke signal, any indication at all, that the NJEA, as an organization, will break with its iron-fisted refusal to move beyond its self-interest to that of the public interest," Drewniak(Governor's spokesman) said. "The atmosphere will change when that happens."

3-30-10 Race to the Top winners helped by local buy-in
Education Week - 'Local Buy-In Helps Two States Win Race to Top' "...Still, peer reviewers knocked points off for that low participation. In fact, if Georgia had gotten the full points for district participation, it would have been enough to push it ahead of Tennessee." Vol. 29, Issue 28

3-29-10 The Record and Asbury Park Press - Editorials
The Record editorial: 'School budget 101' Monday, March 29, 2010 - IT'S DECISION time "...The local board of education is just one leg of a three-legged stool. Employees and parents can help bring budgets into balance.....We support the call by Governor Christie to ask unions to agree to a wage freeze. Many school administrators have already agreed to do so — including in Montvale. Teachers and other staff members should do the same. Virtually every school district is trying to reopen contracts. A survey of 23 districts found that wage freezes would save them $59 million next year, according to the state School Boards Association.....It's not the whole answer. But it's a big part. The NJEA and other state representatives should return to the bargaining table. And Christie may need to re-examine his vow not to renew the so-called "millionaire's" income tax for one year..."

Christie to teachers: "Step up to the plate" AN ASBURY PARK PRESS EDITORIAL • March 28, 2010

"...One by one, school districts have been announcing plans to cut jobs, programs, busing and more. If the teachers union pushes for districts to agree to Christie's plan, a lot of those cuts could be halted.

The fight to reign in school spending desperately needed someone to step into the ring on behalf of the taxpayers. Christie did. Hopefully, both sides can shake hands and come out working together — for the children's sake."

3-26-10 School Aid, Budget Shortfall - Impt Related Issues = Front Page News
Philadelphia Inquirer - Democrat ic legislators say budget must reinstate tax hike –
Inquirer Trenton Bureau - New Jersey's Democratic-controlled Legislature will not approve a state budget unless it reinstates an income tax increase on the wealthy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D., Essex) said yesterday.

N.J. lawmakers say towns should set sales, income taxes to ease high property taxes By Statehouse Bureau Staff

The Record - State's deep cuts to schools hit home "..."I think the governor is assuming that tax outrage trumps all other forms of outrage and, politically, it's been successful so far," said Bernard Josefsberg, schools chief in Leonia, where a dozen custodians may be let go to help close the $1.3 million shortfall in state aid. "He's forcing, in one fell swoop, revolutionary change, and not the kind of change we deserve."

Freeze N.J. teacher pay: Jobs they save may be their own By Star-Ledger Editorial Board/The Star-Led...

3-23-10 ' N.J. Gov. Chris Christie signs pension, benefits changes for state employees'
TRENTON -- After a day of haggling over details, Gov. Chris Christie tonight signed into law broad changes to pensions and benefits offered to public workers. The changes, which will largely affect future workers and won’t have much of an immediate impact on the state’s $46 billion pension hole, faced stiff opposition from labor unions every step of the way since being announced in January...

3-23-10 State Budget Issues in the News
'State aid reductions force N.J. school boards to cut staffs, including teachers' By The Associated Press
Asbury Park Press - 'Gov. Christie to school employees: Skip raises'
'Christie: Teachers should give back scheduled raises' STATE HOUSE BUREAU

3-17-10 Budget News - Gov. Chris Christie proposes sacrifices
Gov. Chris Christie today challenged lawmakers to help him transform New Jersey government in a hard-times budget speech today that portrayed a state on the brink of fiscal ruin.

3-17-10 Budget News - NJ Schools Stunned By Cuts
When Gov. Christie told school districts yesterday afternoon they should expect aid cuts up to 5 percent of their overall budgets, Jim Devereaux, the Cherry Hill district's assistant superintendent of business, couldn't believe what he was hearing.

3-14-10 'Christie will propose constitutional amendment to cap tax hikes in N.J. budget'
GSCS Quick Fact:The 2.5% cap proposal will, according to this article, require a constitutional amendment to pass prior to implementation. The earliest time the required statewide public vote could be scheduled would be this November.

TRENTON/STAR LEDGER -- "Gov. Chris Christie will propose a constitutional amendment limiting annual property tax increases to 2.5 percent when he introduces a budget Tuesday that will seek fundamental changes in spending at every level of government, according to administration officials with knowledge of the plan...

"Christie will also propose converting the state’s property tax rebate checks into direct credits on homeowners’ tax bills..."

"The governor’s $29.3 billion budget will shave $2.9 billion off state spending from last year, about a 9 percent drop. The cuts include reductions in aid to municipalities and school districts...

"Unlike the current 4 percent limit, the new "hard" 2.5 percent cap on municipal, school and county property tax levies would be all-encompassing, without exceptions for such essentials as rising health insurance or debt payments. The tax could be raised higher only if local voters grant their approval in referendums. .."

3-4-10 'School aid cuts unavoidable during NJ budget crisis'
“Christie worked so hard to avoid reductions in state aid to New Jersey’s public schools" By Bret Schundler,Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

"...But it is the governor’s hope that total state aid to school districts will not have to be decreased drastically — that we will be able to find enough savings in other areas of the budget to be able to maintain it at a consistent level.

If we can at least get close to our goal, and if legislators and educators will support us as we work to provide school districts new ways to stretch their available resources to the fullest, our children will be the winners..."

3-3-10 'Public Education in N.J.: Acting NJ Comm of Educ Bret Schundler says 'Opportunity'
3-3-10 Alternative Press/Indepentdet Press - 'Garden State Coalition of Schools Asks What’s Ahead for Education'

SUMMIT, NJ – Educators, legislators and concerned parents from near and far came to the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School on Tuesday night to participate in a forum organized by the Garden State Coalition of Schools entitled, "What’s Ahead for Public Education in New Jersey." Acting New Jersey Commission of Education Bret Schundler was the event’s special guest and during prepared remarks as well as in response to questions and answers from audience members, he provided a peak inside the Christie Administration’s plans for education in the Garden State, including how the Administration will deal with the State’s fiscal crisis.

Lynne Strickland, Executive Director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, said that the New Jersey state budget is in real trouble and local school budgets are in a lot of trouble, as well. "We better hold our hands together or we’re going to sink," she said...She stated that there is good news and bad news about education and the State’s budget: the budget for schools is the biggest part of the state budget. She recommended that there are three keys to ensuring quality education in New Jersey: stability (quality of education), ability (to remain stable educationally) and flexibility (how budget cuts are applied to ensure the quality of education is not sacrificed).

Jim O’Neil, President of the Coalition and Superintendent of the School District of the Chathams, said that Governor Christie inherited a "fiscal mess" and there are no simple answers to complex issues. He stated that the Coalition recognizes that the problems that education is facing are serious and that the Coalition wants to be part of the solution..." Click on more below to read comments from Commissioner Schundler, and Legislators Senator Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnic, and Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz and Mila Jasey.

2-26-10 'NJ average property taxes grow 3.3 percent to an average of $7,300'
Statehouse Bureau - "...The 3.3 percent average increase was the smallest in a decade, and marked the second straight year with a rate below a 4 percent cap instituted through a special legislative session in 2006-07..."

2-24-10 'Tight funds raise class sizes that districts long sought to cut'
Press of Atlantic City - "..It is a tight fit. The room holds 28 desks and chairs... The average kindergarten through eighth-grade class size statewide was 18 to 20 students in 2008-2009 according to the state school report card. The small size reflects a decade of efforts, spurred by the No Child Left Behind law, to reduce class size and improve student achievement.

But public demand to control property taxes and fears that state school aid may be cut by as much as 15 percent next year have school officials concerned that staff may have to be cut to balance the budget..."

2-22-10 Christie and unions poised to do batttle over budget cuts'
Star-Ledger "It could be a long, drawn-out war..."

2-19-10 'Acting NJ education commissioner hoping other savings can ward off cuts'
(GSCS was at the committee meeting yesterday, the commissioner was well-received; he is scheduled for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.The article below reports on his discussion with the Assembly Education Committee yesterday reflects the content of that conversation.)

The Record - “We’re working hard to see if we can achieve state aid that’s flat but we don’t know if it’s possible,” he told the Assembly Education Committee. “We’re going to try our best to see if we can achieve economies elsewhere in the state budget” to alleviate the pain for schools. Asked after Thursday’s hearing whether 15-percent cuts were the worst-case scenario, Schundler said “that would be precipitous to say. I wouldn’t say yes, I wouldn’t say no.”
Schundler said the dire forecasts stemmed partly from the expected loss of stimulus funds next year. An education department spokeswoman said roughly $1 billion of federal stimulus funds enabled the state to plug budget holes and give $7.5 billion in aid to districts this year. The acting commissioner said pension reform bills under discussion in the Legislature would, if enacted, help districts save significant sums...

If there are aid cuts, Schundler said that some districts would likely face higher percentage cuts than others, depending on their needs...Despite concerns over funding, the committee greeted Schundler cordially and expressed enthusiasm for his calls for high standards, more flexibility and innovation on the local level...In keeping with Schundler’s push for more choice in schooling, the committee unanimously approved a bill that would expand and make permanent a 10-year-old program that lets students leave their districts to attend public schools in 13 “choice districts” statewide, including Englewood..."

2-22-10 Trenton Active Today
GSCS: As part of the confirmation process, Acting Commissioner Schundler was interviewed by the Judiciary Committee this morning. Chairman Scutari announced, after approximately 2 hours of questioning, that the committee needed more time and that the hearing would be reconvened this coming Monday, March 1.

Acting Treasurer Eristoff spent over 2 hours before the Assembly Budget Committee in a Q & A session dealing with the Governor's current year decifit plan for state aid cuts and state spending reductions. Among other things, the Treasurer told the committee that the FY10 deficit plan is in place already, and that the administration is now focused on FY11 and the Governor's March 16 Budget Message. Assembly Budget Chairman Lou Greenwald cotinues to press for clarity on what actions, including the surplus reduction proposal, specifically may require legislative action.

Fast Track: Pension reform legislation passed the Senate 36-0 earlier in the afternoon today. The Assembly is introducing that legislation today, setting the stage to vote on it shortly.

Click on more below to see articles: "N.J. Senate panel delays vote on Bret Schundler's nomination for education chief" ... "N.J. acting treasurer, Assembly committee spar over Gov. Chris Christie's budget cuts" ... "N.J. Senate approves sweeping pension changes for public employees" ... "N.J. Senate approves ban on 'diploma mills' for school administrators, teachers to boost salaries"

2-16-10 'Christie Adopts Corzine Cuts, Then Some'
The Associated Press/My Central Jersey "...Murray (Monmouth Univ. pollster) said Christie and Corzine may both have looked to cut school aid because it is one of the few large unspent accounts remaining more than seven months into the budget year.

1-29-10 Schools in the News
'N.J. may revive proposal to extend life of school buses' Star-Ledger
'Montgomery faces school budget challenges' - THE TIMES

'Gov. Chris Christie vetoes funding for over-budget Burlington High School project' - Star Ledger

1-20-10 'N.J. files application for federal Race to the Top education money'
"New Jersey completed its application today for a share of $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top education funding with 378 of the state’s 591 school districts signing on to the bid — but without the support of most of the state’s teachers unions...Only 21 of the state’s local teachers unions backed the effort to win up to $400 million in the competitive grant, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Education..."

1-20-10 Editorials, Commentary on New Governor in Trenton
Asbury Park Press, Courier Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Record, Star Ledger............... "...Trenton sets the rules for contract negotiations, and they are tilted today in favor of the unions. Edison pays its cops an average of more than $100,000 because surrounding towns do as well, and state arbitration rules force Edison to keep up. The same dynamic drives up teacher salaries.

Trenton needs to rewrite those rules..."

1-15-10 Education News-Race to the Top incentives, NCLB annual results, supermajority vote upheld
'More than 800 N.J. schools failed to meet No Child Left Behind standards' Star-Ledger “ ... We in New Jersey have been raising our academic standards and increasing the rigor of our tests,” Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gantwerk said in a statement. “We have very high expectations here..."................................................... Asbury Park Press 'Buy-in essential in state's Race to Top', By LUCILLE E. DAVY "New Jersey will submit its application for the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top competition on Tuesday. The prize is a huge infusion of federal dollars to fund innovative, transformational changes in how we prepare children for success in college and the workplace..."

'N.J. law requiring 60-percent vote on local schools budget upheld' The Star-Ledger

1-14-10 'N.J. Gov.-elect Christie targets teachers' union with Schundler appointment'
Star Ledger- TRENTON -- "Sitting in his transition office a few block from the state capitol in Trenton, Chris Christie was in full battle mode today, like a boxer who couldn’t wait to climb into the ring and start pounding away. In fact, he wasn’t waiting. His target: The 200,000-member strong New Jersey Education Association, the most muscular special interest group in town..."

1-14-10 'To lead schools, Christie picks voucher advocate'
NY Times on Bret Schundler, January 14 NY TIMES - January 14, 2010 To Lead Schools, Christie Picks Voucher Advocate By DAVID M. HALBFINGER TRENTON — The man once described by teachers’ union leaders as “the antithesis of everything we hold sacred about public education” was chosen to serve as state education commissioner by Governor-elect Christopher J. Christie on Wednesday....The nomination of Bret D. Schundler to the post underscored the governor’s determination to press ahead with his push for school vouchers, more charter schools and merit pay for teachers. “We agree on the type of significant reform that needs to happen in our educational system here in New Jersey,” Mr. Christie said in making the announcement at the State House. “I want a strong, reasonable, bold leader who’s going to help me implement those policies.” Still, some of the ideas that made him a polarizing figure to unions and Democratic leaders have become more mainstream, with even President Obama signaling interest in merit pay and promoting the expansion of charter schools. On Wednesday, the teachers’ union issued a statement that refrained from criticizing the choice. His nomination — made as the Rev. Reginald Jackson, director of the Black Ministers Council, looked on approvingly — captivated New Jersey’s political class on Wednesday. “Wow! Are you serious?” Senator Raymond J. Lesniak of Elizabeth said when told of Mr. Schundler’s selection. Mr. Lesniak said he was thrilled.Mr. Lesniak, a Democrat who has broken with the powerful New Jersey Education Association in sponsoring a bill to create a pilot school-voucher program, said Mr. Schundler’s fate would depend largely on the three Democratic senators from Hudson County. The nominee’s name is submitted to those senators, as a formal courtesy, but they could break with custom and block it if they choose..."

1-13-10 More articles, plus Wikipedia information re New Education Commissioner, Bret Schundler
'Christie names Bret Schundler to head education, Bob Martin to oversee New Jersey’s environmental protection’ newjerseynewsroom.com ‘Christie picks Bret Schundler as education commissioner’ The Associated Press'Christie names Bret Schundler to head education, Bob Martin to oversee New Jersey’s environmental protection’ newjerseynewsroom.com

‘Christie picks Bret Schundler as education commissioner’ The Associated Press

‘N.J. Gov.-elect Christie names new education, environmental protection chiefs’ Statehouse Bureau Staff

‘Bret Schundler: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia’

'Schundler says he's open to working with NJEA' politickernj.com

1-13-10 More articles + Wikipedia information re New Education Commissioner, Bret Schundler
'Christie names Bret Schundler to head education, Bob Martin to oversee New Jersey’s environmental protection’ newjerseynewsroom.com ‘Christie picks Bret Schundler as education commissioner’ The Associated Press

‘N.J. Gov.-elect Christie names new education, environmental protection chiefs’ Statehouse Bureau Staff

‘N.J. Gov.-elect Christie names new education, environmental protection chiefs’ Statehouse Bureau Staff ‘Bret Schundler: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia’

1-13-10 Christie Press Conference reports
'N.J. Gov.-elect Christie names new education, environmental protection chiefs' By Statehouse Bureau/Star ledger "...TRENTON -- Gov.-elect Chris Christie announced two more members of his cabinet today, naming business consultant Bob Martin to lead environmental efforts and former Republican candidate for governor Bret Schundler to oversee New Jersey schools. With each nomination, Christie emphasizes his campaign promises to promote charter schools, combat teacher unions and protect the environment while making the state more business friendly..."

'Christie picks Bret Schundler as education commissioner Source: Bret Schundler NJ ed commish'Associated Press

"...Schundler has taken on national and state teachers unions in the past. Like the incoming governor, he is a proponent of giving parents more choices on where to send their children to school..."

1-12-10 Change in Trenton
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 'New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine will highlight gains in children's programs during his term when he delivers his final State of the State address Tuesday.'.............'Assembly speaker leaves, and voices mixed feelings' Star Ledger.............'Richard Codey ends run as N.J. Senate president' Statehouse Bureau

1-6-10 Race to the Top Plans on the move, not without conflict
STAR LEDGER-TRENTON 'N.J. education commissioner unveils system tying student performance to teacher evaluations' "Two weeks before the deadline to apply for up to $400 million in federal Race to the Top education reform aid, state Education Commissioner Lucille Davy on Tuesday unveiled details of the state’s proposed application to more than 600 local school officials in a packed auditorium in Trenton..." ......................... The RECORD - 'Teachers' union advises local affiliates not to join chase for federal grants' "Hours after education Commissioner Lucille Davy made an impassioned plea in Trenton Tuesday morning to persuade districts to join the state’s chase for $400 million in federal grants, the state teachers’ union tried to stop the plan by advising local teachers’ associations...Tuesday afternoon that affiliates should not sign local memorandums of understanding agreeing to the state’s proposal..."

12-23-09 Press of Atlantic City - 'Corzine forms panel to aid nonpublic schools'
TRENTON - The funding challenges faced by the state's more than 1,200 nonpublic schools will be the focus of a new state commission.Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Tuesday signed an executive order creating the Non-Public Education Funding Commission to recommend how nonpublic schools and the state can maximize increasingly limited funds.

1-5-10 News articles re: lame duck
'In-state tuition for illegal immigrants advances in state Legislature', GANNETT STATE BUREAU 'N.J. Assembly committee approves bill allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition', Statehouse Bureau

'N.J. lawmakers hear bills aimed at improving urban education' Associated Press

'Bill allowing N.J. municipalities to defer pension payments stalls', Statehouse Bureau Staff

1-4-10 'Last Call for Lame Ducks in Trenton'
STAR-LEDGER ... "Although chances are dwindling for Democrats to enact laws before Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes office Jan. 19, lawmakers said most of their grand plans...have fizzled, many with gut-checks over the state's fiscal crisis...Lame duck's becoming so anticlimactic," said Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who will become Senate president when the new session begins Jan. 12...Many bills faded because they would have required new spending without the state revenue to support them, Sweeney said...Other bills have generated controversy at the expense of votes..."

1-5-10 Update on January 4 Lame Duck Session
Of Note: Certain bills that have been targeted by GSCS since June and on the GSCS 'Radar Screen' did not come up for a vote (our thanks to members who helped in our outreach out to Trenton). These bills included S2850- Prevailing Wage for Food Service Workers; A4140-Subcontracting revisions; A4142-'Instant Tenure' bill; A1489 Extracurricular Fee bill. GSCS continues to watch...School-related bills that are moving through are A3671-Accredited Insitution studies & compensation; A194-S1036 Allows undocumented residents to pay in-state tuition for higher education studies; A3472- Interdistrict Public School Choice bill, among others...The Pension Deferral bills (S3136-A4362) were held (not enough votes). For related news articles from today, click on More here...ALSO OF NOTE: Governor Corzine's introduced plan to cut state aid to schools via additional surplus on hand,requires legislation...to date, no legislation has been introduced to support this proposal. GSCS is hearing it is 'up in the air' and will not be addressed, at least, in this lame duck session. GSCS has also been aware that state aid is very likely to be cut to schools in this year. GSCS submits that school communities require flexibility in how to apply any potential aid cuts.

12-28-09 Education Week 'Race to Top' Driving Policy Action Across States
"...the federal Race to the Top competition is helping to drive a flurry of measures nationwide aimed, at least in part, at making states stronger candidates for a slice of the $4 billion in education grants.Those efforts emerge as a priority in the 2010 legislative season, even as many cash-strapped states face the prospect of tough spending decisions—including school budget cuts—on top of the midyear cuts they enacted in recent months..."

12-27-09 'New Jersey competes for education reform stimulus money' (aka 'Race to the Top' funds)
Star Ledger "...One thing Race to the Top would not do is help New Jersey cope with the $9.5 billion budget shortfall projected for next year. "There will be strings attached," Auerswald said. "If we receive Race to the Top funding, it will be tied to very specific programs and initiatives we submit in the application."

Race to the Top will reward states that have reform plans in four main areas: standards and assessments that prepare students for college and the work force; data systems to support instruction; strategies to improve teachers and leaders; and proposals to turn around struggling schools. The competition also requires that states show support from numerous partners, including school boards, superintendents and teachers union leaders. Some say that could be a challenge for New Jersey..."

12-20-09 Education in the News
'Corzine considers legislation aimed at helping special needs students in N.J.' - The Associated Press

12-12 & 13-09 Education Issues in the News
'More students in N.J. get free, reduced-priced lunches in recession' - Associated Press/Record The Record of Bergen County found 20,061 Bergen County students got free and reduced-price lunches last year. That was a 17 percent rise in three years.The number of children receiving free or reduced-price school meals has increased in New Jersey's schools as well..."

Star Ledger - 'N.J. Gov.-elect Christie, N.Y.C. Mayor Bloomberg agree on recession budgeting'

"...After meeting privately with a few close aides, the governor-elect and mayor told reporters they planned to work together on economic, homeland security and education issues. Bloomberg, who was elected for a third term in November, has agreed to visit a charter school in Jersey City within the next month, Christie said..."

11-29-09 Ramifications - News of NJ's fiscal realities
'Municipalities brace for steep cuts in state aid' By Star-Ledger

'Assembly Republicans ask Treasury to delay expiration of office supply contractd current N J vendors prevented from bidding new contract'

Buono (Senator Barbara Buono/D Meteuchen/Chair of Senate Budget& Appropriations Committee)Statement On FY2010 Projected Budget Deficit

"...Largely due to continuing revenue shortfalls and the need for supplemental appropriations, the projected deficit by the close of the current fiscal year is now estimated at $1 billion. This information underscores the need for the continued fiscal restraint as we work our way through this global economic crisis..."

11-20-09 'Christie lays down his law for state'
nj.com STATEHOUSE BUREAU "In his first major speech since Election Day, Gov.-elect Chris Christie told local officials yesterday they better step up and become part of the solution, or he would become their problem..."

11-13-09 Education Week on: Gov-elect Christie's Education Agenda; Race to the Top Funds Rules


11-12-09 Governor-elect Christie names his 10 member transition team
...The team will be led by David Samson, a Republican lawyer who served as former governor James E. McGreevey's attorney general.' The transition team will include: -- Mike DuHaime, campaign strategists; -- Senator Joe Kyrillos, campaign chairman; -- George Gilmore, Ocean County republican chairman; -- Senator Sandra Cunningham -- John McCormac, Woodbridge Mayor; -- Susan Cole, President Monclaire State University; -- Debra DiLorenzo, President and CEO Chamber of Commerce Southern NJ; -- Jon Hanson, Chairman and founder of the Hampshire Real Estate Companies; and -- Alfred C. Koeppe, executive director of the Newark Alliance and former president of PSE&G. (Courtesy/Princeton Public Affairs Group)

N.J. Gov.-elect Chris Christie names bipartisan transition team, Star-Ledger 'After running for office vowing to "turn Trenton upside down," Gov.-elect Chris Christie today tapped a transition team that knows the Statehouse inside out, from a Democratic state senator and former state treasurer to longtime Republican operatives.'

11-11-09 'Oliver ready for Nov.23 leadership vote, wants up or down vote on marriage equality'
POLITICKERNJ.COM News 'Her early critics quietly grumble that she's a political neophyte - the preferred Essex County term of art for someone who rises too quickly in politics.But Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange), a veteran of local East Orange politics, said she is more than ready to assume the lead role in the lower house come Nov. 23rd, when both the Assemby and the senate are scheduled to vote on leadership...'

11-11-09 Christie mum on fiscal emergency declaration
11-10-09,THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Asbury Park Press 'A spokeswoman for Gov.-elect Chris Christie wouldn't confirm or deny a published report that New Jersey's next governor may declare a financial state of emergency after he takes office in January...A report by the Statehouse bureau of The Star-Ledger and The Record, attributed to unnamed advisers and published Tuesday, said Christie is "examining the possibility of declaring a financial emergency.'...Christie has limited options for balancing the budget that starts July 1 after ruling out raising taxes or cutting funding for K-12 education.''

11-9-09 Edcuation in the News
Bergen County, Education, News » Classes help N.J. students prepare for state graduation exam

Christie provides fresh hope for city schoolkids, Asbury Park Press, November 8, 2009

Don't mess with success: Gov.-elect Chris Christie should catch up on preschool, By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

Public school meets needs of disabled students Sunday, November 08, 2009 STAR-LEDGER

11-8-09 News of Note
Christie Victory Stalls Plans for N.J. Road Funds, Pensions - Bloomberg News, By Dunstan McNichol& T. Dopp....................... Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac headed for Christie transition team; Treachery among N.J. Democrats; Candidates take mystery vacations By The Auditor/The Star-Ledger

11-6-09 News of Note
NY TIMES - November 6, 2009 Op-Ed Contributor/Harlen Coben 'Chris Christie Confidential'

My Central Jersey - 'Christie: My win not a loss for Obama'

Nj.com/Star Ledger -'Governor-elect Chris Christie prepares to take on role as head of New Jersey'

Politickernj.com -'GOP leaders rejoice in Christie's ability to unify, while Dems still skeptical'

11-5-09 Day After the Election News
STAR LEDGER - 'After victory, Christie asks for Dems' help' "A day after becoming the first Republican in a dozen years to capture the Statehouse, Gov.-elect Chris Christie yesterday went to the Democratic bastion of Newark and urged bipartisanship in the wake of a divisive campaign. "This administration is going to be about what works, and that's the signal I'm trying to send," said Christie..."

UPDATE: 'Christie emphasizes reform as he meets with Dems,talks school audits' GANNETT STATE BUREAU Gov.-elect Chris Christie, the newly minted Republican chief executive of normally solidly Democratic New Jersey, made a visit to a Newark charter school the first official stop in his transition to power...

'Christie sets sights on property taxes,The RECORD,STATE HOUSE BUREAU Chris Christie said he will lower New Jersey’s notoriously high property taxes... by following the deliberate approach voters approved — a mix of spending checks and more shared services.“I’ve told everybody right from the beginning that this is not a silver bullet issue...”

NY TIMES, November 5, 2009 'Christie Pledges Fight on Taxes and Business Rules' Governor-elect Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey, basking in praise from Republicans who hailed him as the party’s new star, said Wednesday that he would move quickly to suspend new regulations on business and find ways to lower crushing property taxes, the nation’s highest...[he]also said he would enforce a stricter cap on increases in spending at the local level — the primary driver of the rising property taxes that have set off anger among voters...

NY TIMES, November 5, 2009, Editorial 'The Off-Off-Year Elections' Tuesday’s vote — particularly the election of Republican governors in New Jersey and Virginia — has produced heated predictions about the revived power of Republican social conservatism and the declining fortunes of Barack Obama and his 2008 coalition....

WHAT HAPPENS IN TRENTON DIRECTLY IMPACTS YOU, YOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR COMMUNITY...Today - Tuesday November 3 - is the election day that will determine who will be your Governor for the next four years and who will represent you in your legislative district in the New Jersey Assembly for the next two years...EVERY VOTE WILL COUNT, MAKE SURE YOU EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE & CAST YOUR BALLOT TODAY! Click on More for TV and Radio election night coverage, related articles on the gubernatorial election...

11-2-09 NY Times NJ Governors' race update
November 2, 2009 'Democrats Strive to Hold Governor Posts in Two States' "...Mr. Obama’s appearances in Camden and Newark underscored the White House’s determination to stave off defeat for Mr. Corzine, the only Democratic incumbent up for re-election this year, who is facing an aggressive challenge from Christopher J. Christie, a Republican.The New Jersey contest is attracting enormous attention, not only because of its closeness.

The sputtering economy here (unemployment is 10 percent) has helped to depress Mr. Corzine’s poll numbers and created uneasiness among Democrats nationally about a state they have consistently carried in presidential contests since 1992. Most polls show the race too close to call; Mr. Obama’s visit to New Jersey Sunday was his third to stump for Mr. Corzine...Mr. Christie, undeterred by Mr. Obama’s appeal, barnstormed Sunday in Bergen County, the state’s most populous county, and in Republican strongholds..."

11-4-09 Record low turnout elects Chris Chrisite NJ's Governor
POLITICS NJ 11-3/4-09 - Christie elected Governor, defeats Corzine by 106,000 votes; GOP picks up one Assembly seat Republican Christopher J. Christie, who won acclaim as a corruption buster during his seven years as the United States Attorney, was elected Governor of New Jersey, defeating incumbent Jon S. Corzine by more than 105,000 votes...Republicans picked up one State Assembly seat, captured control of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, and won Freeholder seats in Bergen, Passaic, and Cumberland counties.

November 4, 2009 NY TIMES G.O.P. Wins Two Key Governors’ Races; Bloomberg Prevails in a Close Contest

GANNETT/Asbury Park Press, go to app.com : Why Christie won N.J.

NEW BRUNSWICK — The undecided voters finally decided. They decided that four more years of Democratic Gov. Jon S.Corzine

STAR LEDGER - go to nj.com: N.J.'s election of 'unapologetic conservative' marks personal rebuke of Corzine By Tom Moran

Christie wins N.J. gov race; Corzine vows to keep speaking up

11-3-09 'Chris Christie wins N.J. governor race'
November 03, 2009, 10:07PM Star Ledger 'Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie has defeated Gov. Jon Corzine in his bid for re-election...'

11-1-09 Education News of Note
'Bergen County towns will vote on school-district consolidation' The Star-Ledger ............................... 'Shot in the arm' for special ed' Herald News

Education Week on Federal Stimulus Funding Issues
EDUCATION WEEK October 19, 2009 - How Big Is the Stimulus Funding Cliff? $16.5 billion.

White House: Stimulus Saved 250,000 Education Jobs So Far

Stimulus Funding Cliff Is a Reality

Duncan to CA: Don't Count Your Race to the Top Funds Yet

10-26-09 'High school sports spending grows as budgets get tighter inNew Jersey'
Press of Atlantic City - "...A bill sponsored by state Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, would prohibit schools from charging fees for extracurricular activities. Burzichelli did not return calls for comment, but has said he believes charging a user fee could discriminate against those who cannot afford to pay. Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, said districts need flexibility in how they save money. She said fee waivers ensure low-income students are not excluded.

"It really hasn't happened that students can't play," she said, adding that fees offer a compromise that helps control costs while still offering activities. "It would seem to me that it does more harm if they take the activity away," she said.."

10-22-09 News of Note
Press of Atlantic Cty: 'What do the candidates say on education?' A third of the state budget and a lot of property-tax money funds public education in New Jersey. The next governor will decide how that money is spent. Here's what the candidates say they will do.

Associated Press - 'College prep for teachers 'lacking' Thursday, October 22, 2009

Herald News,WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is calling for an overhaul of college programs that prepare teachers, saying they are cash cows that do a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the classroom.

Star Ledger - 'N.J. school construction projects are delayed by state-contractors dispute'

10-20-09 News of Note
'State school jobs are saved – but where' THE RECORD WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

GANNETT; PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY: Articles on Additional NJ Budget Shortfall of $190M

10-19-09 Education Week 'States felling fiscal pain despite the stimulus'
"...And many states are looking ahead to a time in the federal 2011 fiscal year when money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a key part of the stimulus program, will no longer be available. That funding, which was intended primarily to backfill cuts that states had already made to education programs, is spread out over two years. In some cases, states have diverted resources from K-12 programs and replaced their own dollars with stabilization funding from the federal government..."

10-14-09 'Meetings are just the tip of the iceberg'
Education Week/Commentary - Meetings Are Just Tip of Iceberg "...in 2008, driven by a sense of curiosity and public service, I got elected to my local school board in central New Jersey, providing me with a box-seat view that even the most informed observer cannot obtain..."(Author Gene I. Maeroff, a member of the school board in Edison, N.J., is the author of 12 books on education topics and a senior fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University.)

10-7 & 9-09 Gubernatorial Campaign news: Candidates on education; Corzine on next year's state budget
Star Ledger - 'Issues facing N.J. public schools, students tackled by gubernatorial candidates'...TRENTON -- As the race for New Jersey governor entered the fall, the three major candidates spent a lot of time in places well-known to most state residents: public schools. With 2,500 public schools and nearly 1.4 million children attending them, New Jersey has no shortage of educational issues..."

Star Ledger - Gov. Jon Corzine details how he would close N.J.'s $8B budget deficit. (For the first time...)

10-5-09 Gannett: Editorial & Recommendations re: Gubernatorial Campaign Issues '09
"If you haven't read all of our eight-part "Tax Crush" series, which concludes today, the entire package is available online at mycentraljersey.com and at app.com (Asbury Park Press). As a follow-up to it, we will be outlining a 20-point plan for easing the tax burden that will appear on the Monday and Tuesday editorial pages. It will address four basic areas: reining in public employee salaries and benefits; making the tax system more equitable; putting controls in place that will make it more difficult for lawmakers to spend money they don't have; and improving government efficiency."

10-4-09 NY Times 'As Property Taxes Become a Real Burden'
'...Of the 10 counties in the country with the highest median property taxes, every one is in New York or New Jersey...The problem is that many suburbanites who bought the luxury car a few years back now can barely afford the Saturn. The New Jersey race will provide some signals.'

10-2-09 News of Note
N.J. to receive nearly $533 million in education aid GANNETT WASHINGTON BUREAU • OCTOBER 1, 2009 "New Jersey will receive nearly $533 million worth of federal grants for teacher and student support programs, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday...The money will be used to help students at so-called Title I, or high-poverty, schools and children with disabilities...The grant funding is separate from the $100 billion in education money Congress approved as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in February."

'N.J. schools narrowing achievement gap for minority, low-income students, study says' Star Ledger... WASHINGTON -- New Jersey schools are narrowing the achievement gap for minority and low-income students on statewide standardized reading and math tests, reflecting a nationwide trend, according to a study released today..."

10-1-09 Education Week on Acheivement Gap narrowing; Algebra Testing
EDUCATION WEEK: October 1, 2009 Report Finds Achievement Gap Continuing to Narrow, By Stephen Sawchuk

"Achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students on state tests have narrowed in many instances over the past decade—continuing a trend that appears to have been bolstered in the 1990s by the standards-based-reform movement, concludes a wide-ranging analysis released today..."

EDUCATION WEEK, Published Online: October 1, 2009 Algebra 2 Test Yields Poor Results in Year II "States that voluntarily took part in a demanding test of advanced algebra skills, given for a second straight year, again saw large proportions of their students struggle with that math content.Yet the test’s sponsors cite the effort as evidence of states’ willingness to band together to create common assessments—a possibility that interests many policymakers—even when the test results are unflattering..."

9-30-09 'Attack ads give way to issues as campaign enters final phase'
The Record, STATE HOUSE BUREAU "...On education, a Corzine ad touts the governor's preservation of funding for public schools even as he sliced the budget. It says Corzine expanded preschool programs and knocks Christie for calling state-funded preschool "baby-sitting."............. Christie did refer to preschool as "baby-sitting" in a debate against GOP primary challenger Steve Lonegan in May but says it's the state paying for universal preschool he opposes, not preschool itself. Corzine has expanded preschool programs, until he had to cut the funding out of this year's budget amid plummeting tax revenues. His $29 billion recession-year budget did boost aid to K-12 school districts to $8.8 billion, but used $1 billion in federal stimulus money................. Christie vigorously contests the ad's claim that his rejection of the stimulus money would have led to layoffs of up to 35,000 teachers. Christie has said he would turn down "any of the stimulus money which had strings attached to it, which required me to manage the state in a particular way by the federal government." But he says education does not fall into that category and he would have accepted the funds..."

9-30-09 Results of School Construction bond referenda rolling in
Asbury Park Press - School votes fail in Brick, pass in Atlantic Highlands, Manchester, Marlboro Voters in 3 Bergen districts OK school renovation plans -The Record

South Plainfield rejects school referendum 2-1, STAR-LEDGER

Split decisions on school funding - Burlington County Times

9-27-09 Education News of Note
NJ School construction referenda set for vote in 25 school districts this Tuesday (9-29-09)...Morris County district considering school uniforms...Gannett delves into property taxes & New Jersey, begins eight days of exploratory articles on the hot button topic...President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan talking about exanding school time via more minutes in the school day to longer school year...

9-23-09 'Tests changing for special ed students'
Phillyburbs.com - The Intelligencer "Special education students generally perform below their biological grade level, officials said. The Pennsylvania Department of Education is changing the way schools test special education students to determine their learning levels, officials said. The modified tests "will be less cognitively complex and shorter" than the regular standardized tests, according to state education officials..."

9-16-09 Courier News Editorial
'Teachers should give on health benefits' "...Salaries aren't the main issue; most districts have already agreed on those, with raises averaging about 4 percent, more than ample in this economy. The sticking point is health benefits. Most New Jersey teachers still don't pay any health premiums, and school districts are trying to negotiate contributions..."

9-9-09 News of Note
New York Times - 'Schools Aided by Stimulus Money Still Facing Cuts' Star Ledger - 'Teacher contracts in New Jersey reflect weak economy'

9-13-09 As an issue for N.J.(Gubernatorial election), schools are in'
Phildaelphia Inquirer-South Jersey News,Sunday, Sep. 13, 2009 'As an issue for N.J., schools are in...The candidates for governor are focusing on charters, funding, and business-tax scholarships.'

"...The big elephant in the room is, 'What about next year?' " said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents many suburban districts.

The state Office of Legislative Services has projected a possible $8 billion budget shortfall. What then?..."

9-3 & 4-09 News of Note
Gannett/Asbury Park Press - September 3, 2009 'Red Bank schools take on youngest pupils...District expands program for 3-year-olds with $2M in new state funding'

Asbury Park Press - September 4, 2009 'Hazlet school takes on new role...Now serves only preschool and kindergarten'

'District gets $1 million for special education' The Record/Northjersey.com - September 10, 2009

8-20-09 'Nearly all NJ teachers are highly qualified'
Star Ledger article based on information presented to the State Board of Education yesterday, Wednesday 8-19-09

8-10-09 News of Note
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Sun, Aug. 9, 2009 'Moody's offers mixed economic outlook for N.J.' "...Republicans seized the opportunity to argue that the state's financial glass was half empty. Democrats saw it as half full....Both sides are motivated, in part, by the intense governor's race, but each perspective has validity... Moody's reaffirmed New Jersey's rating for a $200 million school-construction bond issue expected this week, but also revised its "outlook" on the state's general-obligation bonds from stable to negative..."

'Schools’ health insurance fees jump 25 percent Sunday, August 9, 2009...Suburban Trends' northjersey.com

"...the state health benefits plan, contracted through Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will increase its costs by 25 percent from Jan. 1, 2010 on..."

'School busing up 7.5% in last decade'Assoc. Press

"...Rural districts and suburban districts with busy roads often provide additional busing..."

8-7-09 'Bill would strengthen teacher tenure rights'
northjersey.com article re bill A4142 - GSCS first broke the news of this last-minute, fast track bill that surfaced in the Asembly Education Committee at the very end of June, after the Appropriations Acts for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 was passed. Committee members were caught unaware of the bill and had to vote on it the same day they first saw it. GSCS is adamantly opposed to this legislation. For details and GSCS reporting on the A4142 as it progressed through the Assembly Education Committee, see below on this homepage under the week of June 22, 2009. We urge folks to let their legislators know their opposition to this legislation, as well as Assembly Educatoin Committee Chairman, Joe Cryan, and Governor Jon S.Corzine.

8-4-09 Recent NJ Education News of Note
NJ school districts look to federal stimulus to boost special-needs programs - Sunday August 02, 2009, nj.com Voters will weigh in on future of Pascack Valley, Northjersey.com State set to announce feasibility studies for school consolidations Press of Atlantic City, 7-28-09

7-22-09 'State gives extra aid for schools an extraordinary boost'
Press of Atlantic City/TRENTON - This year, extraordinary school aid really is extraordinary. The state Department of Education has awarded almost $140 million in so-called extraordinary state aid for 2009-2010 to school districts with disabled children whose education costs exceed $40,000 per year. The awards were a huge increase over last year, when the state budget included just $52 million for extraordinary aid. "We've worked hard on this for years," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. "Extra-ordinary expenses for just one or two children can push a district off the budget cliff."

7-16-08 Schools Testing measures adopted; Test scoring upgraded - harder to pass
Philadelphia Inquirer - N.J. adopts tougher math, language standards The New Jersey Board of Education yesterday adopted tougher achievement standards for the state math and language-arts tests that third and fourth graders take.

Press of Atlantic City – New scoring makes 3rd-, 4th-grade tests harder to pass State wants expectations raised for all grade levels

7-14-09 Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
'One small step worth cheering' See editorial that talks about eliminating non-operating districts and responding reader comment that addresses value of home rule.

7-1-09 What's the Buzz: News of Note
Corzine signs $29 billion N.J. budget - Phila Inquirer Trenton Bureau ...........................NJ school districts without schools face last days - northjersey.com

Teacher-certification programs booming in N.J. - Phila Inquirer

NJ.com Loch Arbour : Tiny town's tax bills to double under Corzine's 'reform'

4-23-09 The public shows its support for public education in passing nearly 75 per cent of school budgets statewide
STAR LEDGER, 4-23-09,'Despite national recession, N.J. voters approve 73 percent of school budgets' "...They braced for the worst but instead most New Jersey school districts were expressing relief today, after voters approved 73.3 percent of school budgets in local school elections Tuesday night..."

PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY, 4-23-09, 'New Jersey voters no tougher on school budgets this year than last' "...Increased state aid and new state laws capping property-tax increases appear to have played a role in increasing budget approvals during the past few years...New Jersey School Boards Association data show that in 2006, when five years of flat state aid forced local school boards to turn to taxpayers for more money, only 52 percent of budgets passed..."

4-17-09 The $609M Federal Stimulus aid to NJ - initial reactions
New Jersey school districts will share $609 million in federal stimulus money that they can begin to spend as soon as this summer to preserve jobs and invest in education reform, Gov. Jon Corzine said today.

4-19 and 20-09 Editorial and School Elections articles
New Jersey voters will have a chance Tuesday to say yes or no to an estimated $14 billion in school taxes.

3-29-09 Record Editorial on Judge Doyne recommendations
Record: Fixing Abbott, Sunday, March 29, 2009 "WHATEVER else the Abbott rulings did or did not do in recent decades, they were a well-intentioned and necessary attempt to correct a grave economic and racial disparity... [at this time] we support Governor Corzine’s reform of the state school funding formula to allocate aid by individual student rather than by district. And we agree with the finding last week of a Superior Court judge that this reform is constitutional and fair. Judge Peter Doyne’s opinion is eminently reasonable and clear. He notes that almost half of the low-income students in the state do not attend Abbott schools..."

GSCS will in the Chambers' Gallery to hear Governor Corzine's Budget Message today....Attached are articles related to today's Budget Message The Record/NorthJersey.com , Tuesday March 10, 2009, “ Highlights” State Budget Message

March 10, 2009 Corzine budget includes higher taxes, worker furloughs THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Record –Star Ledger Statehouse Bureau, ‘Corzine offers 'pain on every page' of $29.8B budget’Sunday 3-8-09

Star Ledger - 'Lawmakers say Corzine's budget will cut funding for schools, towns' March 09, 2009

Star Ledger - 'Corzine lets state's largest teachers union keep costly health plan', March 08, 2009 Sunday

March 10, 2009 'Cherry Hill looks at school budget cuts' Courier-Post

1-11-09 'Corzine State of State speech to put economy front & center'
ASBURY PARK PRESS: "...He said national challenges are impacting almost every aspect of life in New Jersey. “On the other hand, we have a lot of good things that are happening in New Jersey by comparison.” STAR LEDGER: "Last year, Gov. Jon S. Corzine warned in his State of the State speech that New Jersey was dangerously deep in debt and bold moves - such as reducing the state's budget and leasing the state's toll roads - were needed to get out of the predicament....A year later, Corzine faces the harder task of describing the status of New Jersey in an election year in which official predictions expect state revenue to fall about $2.1 billion short by the end of the budget year in June and just one week after his administration announced $812.2 million in additional cuts..."

12-28-08 NY Times 'Pension Fight Signals What Lies Ahead'
"IN a preview of political battles to come over the state’s mounting fiscal problems, Republican lawmakers and labor union leaders are voicing opposition to Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s proposal to allow county and municipal governments to skip $584 million in pension fund payments in the coming year..."

12-29-08 NJ to new leaders - Fund our schools
...Ideas being put beforeObama, Congress, new education secretary - GANNETT NEWS SERVICE WASHINGTON -- New Jersey politicians and educators have differing suggestions for President-elect Barack Obama, Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan and the incoming Congress about how the federal government could help improve the state's K-12 school system.

One item on all their wish lists is money. They all want Congress to adequately fund No Child Left Behind so states can meet the law's myriad mandates.

"Many of the policy reasons behind NCLB are desirable. But there are pretty significant implementation issues that have to be addressed," Lucille Davy, New Jersey's education commissioner.... Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group of parents, school boards and superintendents.....Strickland said Congress should at least boost special education funding.

Gov. Jon Corzine is lobbying Congress to increase special education funding and boost school construction spending... Obama has pledged to offer pre-K to all children and improve the quality of teachers..."

11-19-08 'Too soon to scrap Abbott'
Star-Ledger editorial board November 19, 2008

11-24-08 Editorial asks for preschool initiative slow down
"Preschool plan: Time for recess" ASBURY PARK PRESS EDITORIAL

11-23-08 State lacks financial incentives to sell concept of school mergers
This article, drawn from a panel sponsored by the NJ School Boards Association over the weekend, reiterates points that GSCS has consistently noted over the years when talking to the proposed regionalizing of districts: that the costs can easily outweigh the purported benefits of regionalizing districts due to current law, starting with increased teacher salaries and higher tax contributions in many communities..... "...Since larger districts usually pay more, any administrative savings could disappear if dozens or hundreds of teachers get better-paying contracts, he said.

One town's taxes would go down, but the other's would go up..."

9-24-08 Editorials re High School Redesign issues
GSCS concurs with points made in these editorials - .................................................... ASBURY PARK PRESS 9-22-08 ‘Plan in need of remediation’ "State education officials are considering a proposal aimed at reducing the appallingly high percentage of students who need remedial courses in college because they weren't properly prepared by the end of high school. But instead of trying to bolster basic skills, they want to require more advanced-level math and science course work that some fear could come at the expense of vocational education.... Davy should head back to the drawing board, and bring the proposal's critics with her. The education board shouldn't move ahead unless all the academic and financial concerns raised about the program have been fully addressed."

STAR LEDGER 'Strengthen education first' Wednesday, September 24, 2008 "New Jersey is planning to strengthen math, science and language requirements for high school graduation. The Education Department, however, says it may take eight years to polish the plan. And that's not a bad idea...."

9-24-08 Commissioner of Education at Assembly Education Committee yesterday
GANNETT STATE BUREAU "State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy endured a grilling Monday from the chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, who questioned how school administrators were permitted to adorn their credentials with academic degrees from fly-by-night institutions..."

9-24-08 Supreme Court hearing on constitutionality of School Funding Reform Act
The Supreme Court heard argument from the State Assistant Attorney General Robert Gilson yesterday on why the new school funding formula should be declared consitutional for all children in New Jersey. Gilson noted that moving forward the Abbott designation should no longer be mandated by the Court since enough appropriate state, local and federal program funding will reach Abbott districts based on their enrollment demographics' needs, reflected in the individual districts' adequacy budgets. David Sciarra, Esq., of the Education Law Center countered that the state has not provided evidence that the Abbott remediation is not needed in the future and thus the status quo should remain in effect for Abbotts until proven otherwise. The Court was uncomfortable with arguments that were diametrically opposed. The Court appeared to be prepared to counter with a "remand", a fact finding hearing that should clarify to the court the accuracy and support for the dueling arguments. The timing of the release of the court's decision on this case was not made known. Click on More here to see related articles on yesterday's Supreme Court hearing

8-29-08 'Newly hired teachers benefit from Corzine delay'
STAR LEDGER "Thousands of new teachers can receive the generous pension benefits New Jersey lawmakers voted to scale back in June because Gov. Jon Corzine hasn't signed the controversial reform bill into law..."

8-26-08 What's the Buzz...
NJASA Supports Senate President Codey’s Efforts Trenton, NJ August 25, 2008…….The New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), representing school leaders throughout the state, expects that New Jersey’s educators earn degrees only from accredited colleges and universities..."



News on the Issues - Stay Informed
Star Ledger 8-21-08 Advanced degrees to face scrutiny The Press of Atlantic City - 8-20-08 - Almost all N.J. teachers rated 'highly qualified'

North Jersey News – the Record, the Herald: Around the state 8-21-08 ‘Most N.J. teachers rate highly qualified’

8-15-08 'Superintendents sue education commissioner'
Star Ledger, Friday August 15 2008 - '...Administrators association challenges new state rules on contracts and compensation'

"...The suit contends the new rules violate the administrators' rights to due process and single them out over other public employees..."

8-14-07 In the news today
Star Ledger- Crucial test for school agency "The name has changed, as has the leadership. Yet the state Schools Development Authority, charged with building schools in New Jersey's poorer cities, is still struggling to shed its reputation..."

Courier Post - Special-needs districts to get aid

Star ledger, 8-14-08 Many N.J. superintendents due six-figure retirement deals

Trenton Times 8-14-08 State's highest-paid school officials revealed...Their salaries, benefits to be made available to public

ASBURY PARK PRESS/GANNET - August 14, 2008 Schools chiefs' farewell tab: $59M

7-28 &29- 08 Fuel cost crisis impacting school budgets across the nation
Fuel Prices Force Schools to Weigh Class, Staff Cuts USA Today, July 29 McLEAN, Va. -- "Fuel and energy costs are rising so quickly for the USA's public school districts that nearly one in seven is considering cutting back to four-day weeks this fall..."

California School Districts Ending or Reducing Bus Service for Students The Los Angeles Times, July 28

6-13-08 News on Education Committee actions yesterday in Trenton
'Fight over school funding... head of education Committee wants suburban schools included in $2.5 billion construction plan.' Friday, June 13, 2008 The Express-Times

June 13, 2008'Bill would limit superintendent payout' GANNETT STATE BUREAU Reacting to news of school superintendents receiving huge severance packages, the Assembly Education Committee unanimously passed a measure Thursday limiting the retirement compensation a local school board can put into contracts for school superintendents, assistant superintendents and school business administrators.

6-10-08 NJ lawmakers work on $33B spending plan Tuesday
News short from the Ledger - New Jersey legislative leaders hope to finish work today on the final details of a $33 billion state plan for taxes and spending that has to be in place by July 1. Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) said he is hopeful a budget deal will be struck today. Then both houses of the Legislature will be able to vote on the spending plan by June 19, well before the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

IT'S ALL ABOUT GETTING THE STATE BUDGET PUT TO BED, this includes potential revisions of the pension process and how to handle school construction funding for Abbott districts which could also impact regular operating districts - GSCS is watching how process is developing...At the same time, bills are moving through education committees that will impact school districts. One such is giving emergrency powers to the Commissioner to put accountability regulations in place immediately. These regulations will impct all districts right away, and include much on budgeting process and executive county superintendent roles & requirements of the job. Click on More below to see Assembly Education Committee agenda for June 12 & read relevant article and editorial........................................................................................................................................................................ Pension reform's moment - Sunday Star Ledger, June 08, 2008

Sunday 6-8-08, N.J. budget talks hit home stretch- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ... 'New Jersey legislators trying to keep hopes for a mid-June budget agreement alive also plan action in the coming weeks on several other key issues, including measures meant to address housing costs, school construction and economic worries...'

'Proposed: Voters to OK all borrowing' Amendment to rein in state debt advances, the Ledger,

6-4-08 In the News
Ledger editorial - Holding schools to account Wednesday, June 04, 2008"...The wrongs that are being uncovered cannot, however, be used as an excuse simply to cut school funding instead of enact ing true remedies..."

5-21-08 News Articles & editorial
5-19-08 PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY editorial - Abbott Districts: Audits revealing...All Abbott districts are not created equal..............STAR LEDGER - A super retirement package 5-21-08.............ASBURY PK PRESS -Keansburg school chief to be paid $740,926.

4-30-08 'Loophole on town mergers targeted
STAR LEDGER - Key legislator [Speaker of the Assembly Joe Roberts] seeks to bolster commission "...In addition to eliminating the clause allowing the Legislature to overturn the commission's recommendations before they reach voters, Roberts' proposal would authorize the state to reduce aid for municipalities that reject the panel's consolidation proposals. He said the plan would not result in the immediate wholesale consolidation of municipalities to the detriment of one town over the other..."

LET COUNTY SUPERS NEGOTIATE TEACHER CONTRACTS PROPOSAL: Require executive county superintendents of schools to reduce local district administrative spending by 10 percent in certain school districts within three years.


PROPOSAL: Require executive county superintendents of schools to reduce local district administrative spending by 10 percent in certain school districts within three years.


Speaker Says Low-Turnout Proves April Votes Fail to Resonate With Voters; Aims for June Vote on Measure to Put School Board Members on November Ballot

NEWS EDITORIALS Star Ledger 4-19 & 4-20 Ammo for Abbott Foes & Spending but with Restraint
Star Ledger - Spending but with restraint Sunday, April 20, 2008 "...Voters who went to the polls last week to approve or reject local school budgets left sending this clear message: We're okay with being taxed for reasonable education costs, but don't expect us to go along with anything more right now..."

Star Ledger 4-19-08 "...Notably, Union City is one of the highest-achieving Abbott districts. Yet this kind of mismanagement undermines pub lic confidence in the ability of state and local officials and fo ments hostility toward all Ab bott districts."

Recent news articles of note re: probable 'lame duck ' legislative session issues - to be or not to be- and controversial school construction report
'Legislature's long recess set to end Democrats may move on some big issues during post-election 'lame duck' session'

"...We need to use lame duck to finish unfinished business," Roberts (current Assemly Speaker, Joe Roberts) said. "The question is, do we then attempt to do more or just begin a new dialog." .................................. But Codey (current Senate President, Richard Codey)also said flatly there is just too much work to be put off and he expects the lame duck session will deal with either a new school funding formula or the monetization plan.... Asked which is more likely, Codey said, "It's up in the air right now. After the election is behind us, we can meet and decide what to do in lame duck and what to hold off on..."

'School construction on the rise in suburbs Report alleges state neglecting needy areas'

10-23 Media reports & Trenton responses to date re GSCS Press Conf
...This FYI also includes related articles about Exec. County Supt. appointments...

In the news - Corzine on school aid formula & good news for urban schools
STAR LEDGER 9-27, Corzine back in public eye Talks on varied topics week after surgery

"...He cited school finance as an example of progress..."

ASBURY PK PRESS 9-28 'What's left to discuss?' Gov. Corzine said this week his administration is in the final stages of developing a new school funding formula. But as with his "asset monetization" plans, he's holding back on the details until after the November elections.

ASBURY PK PRESS 9-27-07 'POLICY DEBATE: Certain items and policies loom as Election Day nears...Corzine sets the tone for school funding discussion in next budget'

STAR LEDGER 9-28-07 'Smart decisions on improving schools'

Superintendent Nathan Parker is feeling proud this week, as if he's part of something big, almost miraculous. "We've done something unique in New Jersey," he says. "We are on the cusp of overcoming some of the long-term effects of racism..."

STAR LEDGER EDITORIAL9-28-07: 'Good report card a good start'

"..The good news about New Jersey's scores on the national school report card is the evidence of hard-won progress in narrowing educational gaps among black, Hispanic and lower-income students..."

9-13-07Corzine adds school aid to the lame-duck agenda
STAR LEDGER Corzine adds school aid to the lame-duck agenda 'Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday he wants lawmakers in the next four months to completely revamp the way New Jersey pays for public education. '

"Strickland (GSCS Exec. Director) said the administration has been leaning toward a plan in which funding is based on the students rather than the district, but that has merely been a broad outline..."There is no plan in place, and this process seems to indicate a lightweight debate," she said. "We want this to happen, but we're very concerned...

Back to School News of Note
Bergen Record: Long way to go for property tax reform Op-Ed, Sept6, 2007 .......................... Star Ledger: A new school barometer Friday, September 07, 2007 While it may conjure up fears of Big Brother, tracking students from kindergarten through high school, if properly done, ought to improve education.............................Star Ledger: 99% of N.J. teachers hit 'highly qualified' mark Thursday, September 06, 2007

New York Times: School District Has Dress Code, and Is Buying the Uniforms, Too ELIZABETH, N.J., Aug. 30 — Many public schools are supplying their students with an ever-growing list of essentials that go far beyond textbooks to include scientific calculators, personal laptops and free breakfast….Now they are dressing them, too.

Star Ledger: Higher benefits mean ... higher taxes Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Star Ledger: The tax relief mirage Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Star Ledger: Paterson, Jersey City districts in flux State ed commissioner reserves action…

8-10-07 'Standing 'O' greets Corzine as he hosts town hall mtg'
STAR LEDGER "...One thing he said is vexing him is the difficulty of revamping the formula that guides how Trenton allocates money for public schools around the state. "This the most complicated thing I've ever worked on," said Corzine, who in his previous career headed Goldman Sachs, the largest investment bank in the world..."

8-8-07 Editorial 'School [construction] program needs more than a facelift'
STAR LEDGER re School Construction program: “…The Legislature ought to proceed cautiously until the management of the newly named New Jersey Schools Development Authority can demonstrate that more than a name change has occurred and a solid revenue source has been identified…”

8-2-07 Editorial 'Reliance on property taxes must be fixed'
Courier Post - Reliance on property taxes must be fixed "...Our elected officials in Trenton -- Gov. Jon Corzine and legislators -- have to make fixing the school-funding formula their top priority. If they don't, this state's oppressive property taxes will continue to drive people away from New Jersey. What's happening in Haddon Heights will continue to happen in other communities across the s'tate.

8-1-07 'Paterson isn't ready to gain control' & 7-29 'The Numbers still don't add up'
STAR LEDGER - 8-1-07 Grim report indicates Paterson isn't ready to regain school control More than 15 years after the state takeover of Paterson schools, the district still has problems in its bookkeeping, cannot ensure teachers are properly certified and, until this year, didn't have an updated curriculum...And that's the appraisal from the state itself.

7-29-07 'The numbers still don't add up' ... "In spite of major changes, three Newark schools fall short of federal (NCLB) requirements..."

7-27-07 Retiree health costs 'time bomb'
The Record - Retiree health costs 'time bomb' for N.J. "If New Jersey taxpayers had to pay off the cost of health benefits for retired state workers and teachers in one fell swoop today, the bill would ring up at $58 billion. But look on the bright side: It's a lot less than the $78 billion that was previously estimated..."

7-26-07 'State's tab for retirees' health care is $58B'
Star-Ledger "The tab for the health insurance benefits New Jersey taxpayers have promised retired schoolteachers and government workers is about $58 billion, a seven-month analysis scheduled to be released today has concluded..."

7-25-07 Debate over School Tests
Star Ledger - Debate over school tests: What's being left behind? Focus on math, reading may hurt other subjects

7-25-07 NY Times '2 NJ school districts regain some local control'
"After more than a decade under state control, the Newark and Jersey City public schools have improved enough to be allowed to take back some of their fiscal and management operations as a first step toward regaining local control, state education officials said yesterday..." "...Shelley Skinner, a Jersey City parent who in the spring started an advocacy group for better schools, said she was disappointed by the news..."

6-29-07 Lots of news affecting NJ, its schools and communities this week - STATE BUDGET signed - LIST OF LINE ITEM VETOES - US SUPREME CT RULING impacts school desgregation - SPECIAL EDUCATION GROUPS file suit against state
STAR LEDGER -Governor enacts $33.5 billion budget Plan increases rebates while avoiding tax hikes Friday, June 29, 2007 ...

‘IN THE LOBBY' found at http://inthelobby.net

After he signed the budget bill into law, an apparently angry Gov. Jon Corzine said he is not going to sell the New Jersey Turnpike or other state assets, and denounced critics who said he was...

In the Lobby - Top Headlines: THE UNLUCKY 66 Gov. Corzine signed the $33.5 billion budget today, but not before he took his budget ax to 66 line items totalling approximately $10 million.

Every budget has winners and losers. Here's the unlucky 66:

6-29-07 ASBURY PARK PRESS/GANNETT: A NEW PUBLIC AGENCY? 'Toll-road plan still formulating'...Corzine vague about the details, but lashes out at GOP lawmakers..

STAR LEDGER WASHINGTON BUREAU 'Setback for school desegregation' U.S. justices say race cannot be main factor when placing students throughout a district June 29, 2007

STAR LEDGER 'Jerseyans wonder how 185-page ruling will apply to them' June 29, 2007

STAR LEDGER 6-28-07 'State sued on special ed student separation'

"A coalition of advocacy groups has filed a federal lawsuit against the state that contends thousands of special education students are being wrongfully educated in segregated classes, bringing to court a long-running sore point for New Jersey..."

5-21-07 In Connecticut '2 School Aid Plans Have a Similar Theme'
May 20, 2007 New York Times TAXES 2 School Aid Plans Have a Similar Theme

"...Legislative leaders say the total increase in state money would be used to narrow achievement gaps between the students in poor and well-off districts, yet cities would not see the same proportion of new money that they had seen in the past. However, since the overall increase is substantially higher than in past years, most city officials are not loudly complaining...

...That is because the political itch being scratched this year is not solely about achievement gaps, but relieving pressure on property taxes in the suburbs....

...The state’s education aid program began in the 1980s in response to a lawsuit over unequal school financing, and its formula has sent more money to poor districts than rich over the years. But Donald E. Williams Jr., the president pro tempore of the Senate, said the wealthy districts now deserve to get some relief..."

5-16-07 Education Week 'Frustration Builds in NJ Funding Debate'
'Districts increase push for revised aid formula, amid continuing delays...' "...Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, hoped to have a new funding formula in place for the 2007-08 school year, but that has been delayed until 2008-09 while policymakers and advocates debate the figures and factors that should shape the aid framework. In the meantime, frustration is mounting in the districts..... “We need a school funding formula and we need it, like, yesterday,” said Lynne Strickland, the executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools..."

5-15-07 Grad students tackle school funding issues
STAR LEDGER - 'More than an academic question' "...Still, he came away with a fine appreciation for how the debate affects real people, and he made no excuses for lawmakers who fail to get the system reformed.

"The more they lollygag, the more the people and children will suffer," Lewis said..."

4-18-07 School Budget Vote passed statewide at 78% rate - GSCS take: state aid increases a factored in offsetting property tax increases, thus boosting passing rate by 24.6%, up from last year's passing rate of 53.4%
READ TODAY's ARTICLES -from North Jersey to South Jersey - that report on the elections..... Excerpt from The Star-Ledger April 18, 2007, posted 1:35PM "Nearly four in five New Jersey school budgets won voter approval on Tuesday, the highest total since 2001, according to an unofficial count by the state's school boards association.... The 78 percent success rate was largely credited to an increase in state aid for next year and some of the lowest property tax hikes in years, tempering taxpayer anger that led to almost half of all budgets going down last year..."

4-4-07 News articles, editorial & Op-Ed on bill signings for A1 and A4
THE RECORD 'Districts losing power to county superintendents' "County superintendents were transformed from administrative afterthoughts to arbiters of school spending on Tuesday, as Governor Corzine signed a law granting them line-item veto power over school district budgets..." "...It also gives them the power to craft consolidation plans for smaller, K-6 or K-8 school districts, proposals that would be brought before voters for approval...The notion of broadened powers for county superintendents has been fiercely opposed by many school administrators, advocates and parents..."

THE RECORD - 'Corzine: Be skeptical on tax reform' "...Residents have heard lawmakers promise for decades that change will come, and they have a right to be leery of these new actions, despite the coming payments that could average $1,000, Corzine said..."

"...Republican critics say the credit program is simply a budget-busting expense that relies on a tax increase with no reliable funding for future years..."

STAR LEDGER - 'State expands property tax relief' ... While celebrating the new tax relief, Corzine acknowledged he and lawmakers have more work to do...And he noted lawmakers and the administration still must devise a new formula for distributing almost $8 billion in state aid to schools each year..."

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS - 'Tax reform 101: How you'll fare' "..Q: What's left? A: Public worker unions must approve a proposed contract that includes health and pension benefit concessions. Corzine hasn't taken action on a bill to bar newly elected officials from taxpayer-funded pensions. A new school funding plan isn't ready..."

GANNETT-'Rebates, local budget caps signed into law' "...Republicans, and some Democrats, have said the Corzine administration's failure to create a new school-funding formula leaves a major hole in tax reform because school costs make up the bulk of property taxes.

"The absence of a new school-funding formula is the clearest example of the sessions's failure to confront the root causes of our property tax predicament," said Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon..."

ASBURY PK PRESS OP-ED: 'School funding in Corzine's budget better, but not good enough' "...The time for action is now. We need a school funding formula that not only addresses the needs of at-risk students while taking into account the dramatic growth in suburban school districts. The need of suburban districts to deal with rising costs of educating special-education students also must be addressed..."

ASBURY PK PRESS EDITORIAL: Nothing landmark about "tax relief"

4-4-07 N Y Times, front page 'NJ Pension Fund Endangered by Diverted Billions'
NEW YORK TIMES, front page top right, April 4, 2007 N.J. Pension Fund Endangered by Diverted Billions

"...But an analysis of its records by The New York Times shows that in many cases, New Jersey has overstated even what it has claimed to be contributing, sometimes by hundreds of millions of dollars..."

"...It has enough to pay retirees for several years, but without big contributions, paid for by cuts elsewhere in the state’s programs, higher taxes or another source, the fund could soon be caught in a downward spiral that could devastate the state’s fiscal health...."

The Times’s examination of New Jersey’s pension fund showed that officials have taken questionable steps again and again..."

3-25-07 New York Times on NJ Comparative Spending Guide, more on Gov putting off signing A1, Tax Caps & Rebate bill
THE RECORD Corzine opts to delay signing property tax credit legislation -Friday, March 23, 2007// ....... NEW YORK TIMES - ‘Data Show Wide Differences in New Jersey School Spending’ 3-24-07 {Link to the Guide inside}

The wide range in spending among the state’s 615 school districts is starkly laid out in the 2007 Comparative Spending Guide, which showed an average per-student increase of 3.1 percent over last year.//

“(There) is a big spread, and equity is something that needs to be addressed in the anticipated new school funding formula,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents 150 suburban school districts..."

3-16-07 News articles
TRENTON TIMES - A blow to the budget STAR LEDGER - 'Corzine enacts key parts of tax reform Governor promises he will soon sign final bill, which includes credits for homeowners'

'Assembly approves 7 autism bills'

GANNETT-Asbury Park Press - 'Measure passes allowing immediate online posting of legislative votes'

THE RECORD - 'Abbott schools take another hit' Column

3-15-07 State eases at risk aid restrictions & 25% members of NJ Senate retiring (so far)
STAR LEDGER N.J. relaxes rules on new school aid State's revised conditions will allow most of 217 districts to apply funds toward tax relief

PHILA INQUIRER - NJ Senate Faces Exodus

3-12-07 This article tells you why you cannot get easy access to legislator votes on-line
'Assembly puts off action on disclosure of votes' Gannett State Bureau TRENTON 3-12-07

"At a time when state lawmakers are under federal scrutiny about whether they personally profited from secretive budget additions, the Assembly still has not voted on a measure that would immediately disclose in an online database how each lawmaker voted on all legislative matters..."

3-8-07 'Education Chief Revamps Department'


3-1-07 Op Ed piece re 'Super' Superintendent in the CORE Plan
'County school superintendents would politicize education' - Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/28/07

3-1-07 Emerging Devil showing up in the details
GSCS: State aid restrictions curb property tax relief & program appllications for the aid-targeted districts noted by DOE to receive meaningful % state aid increases - read Star Ledger article... 'OFFICIALS TRIP OVER STRINGS IN SCHOOL AID' State targets the funds at new programs only STAR LEDGER 3-1-07

"New Jersey communities that began the week celebrating hefty boosts in state school aid are beginning to worry that the increases are far less substantial than they first thought.

They believe state-imposed restrictions on how the money can be used mean the new funding will be of little help in holding down property taxes..."

"...How does the new program help you when the program you already have for these kids is straining?" he said. "We certainly don't want to lose what we have in place, while someone tells us we have to do something new. ... It's almost an oxymoron..." (Jerry Tarnower, West Oragne Sup't.)

"...We are grateful for the money, but it certainly is not the 6 percent raise for Montclair that was advertised to the world," Alvarez said. "It is deceiving to the public. Our challenge will be trying to explain this to our local constituencies in order to gain their support during this budget process..."

"...Officials (in Washington Twp, Mercer county) there responded to a $67,500 boost in aid by filing a lawsuit in federal court yesterday alleging that the state's continued refusal to fund the school aid formula since 2002 has cost the township $12 million. Washington Township officials say the state's underfunding amounts to a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution..."

"...She (Commissioner Davy) said the department plans to issue guidelines shortly to further clarify the use of the targeted funds..."

2-23-07 News Articles re Gov's Budget Proposal


2-22-07 Gov's Budget Message Link & Related News Articles
The Governor’s budget message is available online at: http://nj.gov/governor/news/news/approved/20070222.html

A budget summary is also available online at: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/omb/publications/08budget/pdf/budget.pdf

The Record 2-22-07 'Homeowners, schools get bigger share of budget'

Courier Post 2-22-07 Homeowners and suburban schools will get a bigger share of the $33.3 billion state budget Governor Corzine is expected to introduce today By TOM HESTER Jr. Associated Press

It also doesn't fully fund the state's obligation to public worker pensions, and Sen. Barbara Buono said the increased state aid wouldn't help with property taxes. "That increase will be negligible," said Buono, D-Metuchen. "It's just not going to cut it." Bill Dressel, New Jersey League of Municipalities executive director, said that increase would quickly be erased by increased pension costs for public workers. "It's not going to dramatically reduce our reliance on the property tax," Dressel said.

Last property tax reform bills clear Legislature Posted by The Star-Ledger February 22, 2007 3:02PM The Assembly gave final approval today to measures that would set up new county school superintendents with veto power over local districts' budgets and eliminate pension benefits for future elected and appointed officials, effectively wrapping up the Legislature's eight-month effort to rein in property taxes.

2-22-07 News articles re Governor's Budget Message this morning
Philadelphia Inquirer - Corzine budget: Aid up, not taxes The plan, to be introduced today, has more for towns and schools and offers homeowners some relief.

NY Times: Corzine to Propose a New Jersey Budget With No Tax Increase and More School Aid

Star Ledger - $33 billion budget rules out tax hikes Big capital projects are left in the lurch

"...It's a small move in the right direction," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. "The question is, will it stop, or go for ward?..."

  • Live television broadcast on NJN and New Jersey News 12. NJN will re-broadcast at 10 p.m.
  • Live radio broadcast on NJN Public Radio.
  • Streamed live and archived at njn.net.
  • Live webcast on the Office of the Governor's site at state.nj.us

Contributed by Joe Donohue and Dunstan McNichol

2-21-07 Associated Press 'Codey Affirms More State Aid'
Corzine and legislators had hoped to devise a new plan to fund schools for the budget year that begins July 1, but the governor said the plan wasn't ready. He wants to put more emphasis on how many special-needs students each district has, rather than community wealth. "...Word of increased aid came as school groups vowed a stronger effort to get the state to increase help. "It has been a deaf ear and a blind eye going into the sixth year now, and we are mad," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. The coalition represents about 110 suburban districts, including some of the wealthiest in the state.

Yesterday, it announced it was joining forces with the Association of Middle Income Districts, which represents about 40 low- and middle-income schools..."

2-16 to 2-19 News Articles of Note
Corzine aims to avoid tax hikes,insiders say He also plans to balance budget w/o selling the Turnpike Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007 Star-Ledger

Corzine expected to deliver budget Officials mum about specific proposals Asbury Park Press on 02/19/07 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Poll: People don't expect much from property tax reform Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/18/07

State contract talks hit a hurdle on early-retirement issue Saturday, February 17, 2007 Star-Ledger

2-20-07 Live from the Ledger on-line
Wealthier schools join forces for more funding 2:57 p.m. "...We will have power that we have not had," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, an organization that represents 110 of the state's wealthier communities....Strickland's group grew by about 40 districts, with the announcement that a second lobbying group, the Association of Middle Income Districts, is disbanding and becoming part of the Garden State Coalition.

"The Garden State districts have long been seen as leaders in this debate," said Bruce Quinn, president of the Middle Income District's group, and superintendent of the Matawan-Aberdeen School District. "The new Garden State Coalition, now backed by the inclusion of middle and lower wealth districts, will have an even stronger voice to advocate the needed changes."

Lawmakers last year failed in a six-month effort to devise a new formula for distributing the $7 billion in state aid New Jersey sends to schools each year.

2-21-07 Associated Press - Codey Affrims More School Aid
"...Word of increased aid came as school groups vowed a stronger effort to get the state to increase help. "It has been a deaf ear and a blind eye going into the sixth year now, and we are mad," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.

The coalition represents about 110 suburban districts, including some of the wealthiest in the state. Yesterday, it announced it was joining forces with the Association of Middle Income Districts, which represents about 40 low- and middle-income schools.

...Several legislators said they expected the governor to increase school aid as much as 4 percent, or about $400 million, but the administration hasn't confirmed that....

Several lawmakers yesterday praised the combined effort by districts to advocate for new funding.

Sen. Barbara Buono said she would advocate for dedicating all money raised from last year's sales-tax increase to property-tax relief. Voters have approved dedicating half the money...

Sen. John Adler (D., Camden) called the lack of a new school-funding plan "a real show of disrespect to taxpayers."

Assemblyman Joe Malone (R., Burlington) said property-tax relief wouldn't come until a new school-funding system was created.

2-16 to 2-19 New Articles of Note
Corzine aims to avoid tax hikes,insiders say He also plans to balance budget w/o selling the Turnpike Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007 Star-Ledger

Corzine expected to deliver budget Officials mum about specific proposals Asbury Park Press on 02/19/07 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Poll: People don't expect much from property tax reform Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/18/07

State contract talks hit a hurdle on early-retirement issue Saturday, February 17, 2007 Star-Ledger

2-15-07 'Parents get boost on special ed rights' Star Ledger
'Public advocate wants districts to provide proof in complaints' Taking sides in the ongoing debate over special education rights, New Jersey's public advocate has called for the state to place the legal burden of proof on districts when facing parent complaints over the services that schools provide.

2-12-07 State School Aid - needed to offset property taxes now
One state lawmakers gets it: "But Corzine last Monday said a plan won't be ready for the new fiscal year, which angered legislators such as Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, who argued a new school funding plan is vital to cutting property taxes and wants the state to continue pushing to quickly complete a new one. "I'm not giving up," Buono said. "This is just too important..."

The Governor and the Department of Education state that they cannot come up with a school funding formula for next year; the legislature plans to overlay a 'super' county superintendent bureaucracy that proposes to impose more regulations & mandates on schools that have been struggling under 5 years, going into the 6th, year of underfunding school formula aid and students; the flat funding, which amounts to approximately $2.2B over these past 5 years, is a direct tie-in to the growth in property taxes. One has to ask, what are they thinking in Trenton? Tax reform has not been established and tax burden will not be relieved in the overwhelming majority of our towns and school communities....The legislature has been let off the hook of having to deal with a new school funding formula entering this fall's election where all 120 legislative seats are up. What can we point to as a positive step from Trenton that begins to resolve fairness in school aid support for all New Jersey communities, balanced by state acknowledgement of its negative role in this regard which exaccerbates local costs? To date, not much...By not facing the need to increase and to equitably distribute school funding to hundreds of school communities and to their disabled students as well - the state legislature and Governor Corzine will again, for the sixth straight year, ignore one of our state government's most basic roles: that is, to bolster those public school children in need no matter where they live - middle income, and wealther and poorer communities - and to help offset local property taxes - thus helping local taxpayers - through state support aid. CLICK HERE TO READ A SAMPLING OF EDITORIALS THAT SHOW THAT THE PRESS GETS IT TOO...P.S. GOVERNOR CORZINE'S BUDGET ADDRESS IS NOW SCHEDULED FOR FEBRUARY 22.

2-8-07 Editorial - ' Progress, Trenton style'
This time, we were promised, would be different. Merely tinkering with rebates wouldn't do. This time Trenton would be serious about changing the way state and local governments raise revenue and how they spend it. The school aid formula re mains unchanged. With schools responsible for at least 55 percent of the property tax bill, how can any real reform occur without addressing a redistribution of that aid?

2-1-07 Turnpike for sale, Gov - need funding formula, more
Hey buddy, wanna lease a big road? Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/1/07 GANNETT STATE BUREAU.....

Corzine: New school funding formula needed in 2 months 1/31/2007, 10:06 p.m. ET The Associated Press

1-23-07 Tax Reform in Trenton?
'More tax reform measures on tap' Asbury Park Press on 01/23/07

'TAX REFORM CRAWLS' Senate clears one bill in package as others idle Star Ledger, January 23, 2007

'Democrats kill vote on pay-to-play' Gannett State Bureau 01/23/07

1-9-07 Countywide Pilot Program and County 'Super' Superintendent bills held again yesterday, Jan 22 next probable vote date scheduled for these bills
1-9-07 Philadelphia Inquirer 'Gloucester may be county school district test Under a pilot cost-cutting program, one N.J. county would do away with local school administrations'... Gov. Corzine is scheduled to deliver his State of the State address at noon today at the Trenton War Memorial. NJN will carry the speech live on television, radio and the Internet (www.njn.net)..."

1-8-07 Articles & Editorial talk about 'missing pieces' of tax reform proposal and note consequences
Corzine to focus on propertytax - Aim is to jump-start reform package Asbury Park Press on 01/7/07 “…One key piece of reform, a long-awaited new school funding formula, has been absent from recent public discussions. The plan may not be ready for the next round of school budgets, Corzine, Roberts and Codey all said, frustrating some lawmakers."That's a horrible possibility," said Sen. John Adler, D-Camden, who was co-chairman of a property tax reform committee that examined school funding. He called the new formula "by far the most important part of property tax reform."..."Taxpayers have waited a long time, and waited too long for government to finally address the school funding issue. Another year delay would be an absolute slap in the faces of all of us as taxpayers and a tremendous disappointment to those of us in the Legislature," Adler said…”

Property taxes balloon despite push to reform Average bill in N.J. increases 6.8% Star Ledger, Sunday, January 07, 2007

"On the one hand, they say we must run municipal government in a smart business-like fashion and on the other hand, they hamstring us with level funding and they do nothing legislatively to deal with the cost-driving issues," Dressel said.

Star Ledger, Sunday 1-7-07 Editorial - Let localities help the taxpayers save

“…Currently about 40 percent of the 610 school districts and 55 percent of the 566 municipalities participate in the State Health Benefits Plan. They must accept whatever the state works out at the bargaining table with the unions and then figure out a way to pay for it. Variations aren't allowed."

Expect plenty of turnover in state Senate and Assembly GANNETT STATE BUREAU, January 8,2007 "...We'll just have to see if that type of sentiment plays out in New Jersey, both depending on what the Legislature does and the way voters sort of take that practical approach as to who they're going to support..."

1-5-07 Small-town officials protest consolidation
Home News Tribune Online 01/5/07 "..Consolidation will hurt small, efficient communities," O'Brien[Metuchen]said, adding that small towns cost taxpayers less to run than larger municipalities.

Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Bergmanson said small communities are at an advantage because they can "move and adjust in ways to save our taxpayers money." Towns and schools across the state already share services and equipment when it makes economic sense to do so, he added.

"Small towns are not the problem," Bergmanson said.

An official from a Trenton-based lobbying group said citizens need to be aware of the proposed measures, which contain serious "harbingers."

1-4-07 Gov Corzine & legislative leaders agree on 4% hard cap tied to sliding scale rebates (20% max on down)
GSCS understands the need to spend conservatively and believes that reasonable caps can work; the conversation around 'hard caps' to date suggests that only enrollment growth will be considered outside the new cap - in the meantime health benefits and utility costs (to name some) continue to far outpace a 4% proposed cap...Trenton must address these cost drivers beyond local school district control now, otherwise quality education would undoubtedly erode under this kind of proposal. While also critical of the state for not including yet coming up with a new school funding formula that would look to address 5 years of flat formula funding, GSCS notes that it had suggested to state ledership as early as last spring that developing a new and adequate formula for all communities would take perhaps more time than the state was projecting and that an 'interim' formula for a year might be needed. GSCS also pointed out that stakeholders & the public should be interactively involved any interim process. At this point the new formula seems to be put on hold and some kind of piecemeal formula may be in the wings. As of now, neither proposed formula nor temporary formula aid & distibution impacts have been aired in public. GSCS is quoted in attached STAR LEDGER and RECORD articles.

1-3-07 GSCS Member ALERT 'County School bills' fastracked again
GSCS MEMBERS OUTREACH NEEDED NOW!Legislation on County schools bills has been scheduled for Assembly votes on Monday, 1-8-07. But, note that the Senate also has scheduled a voting session on the same day. While there are no bills posted yet for a Senate vote, the likely approach will be for the Assembly to pass bills on Monday and then literally ‘run’ certain bills (more controversial, rushed bills such as the county ‘super’ superintendent bills(S10 - A4 in te Assembly]), or the county-wide district bill - S7 [A8 in the Assenbly]-may emerge for a vote this way) across the hall for the Senate to then post those bills for a vote on the same day. Majority of bills – perhaps all - will be publicly scheduled on the Senate board list prior to the voting session; it’s a matter of when, and timing is everything. Do not hesitate to contact Trenton. Many of you helped to slow down these ‘county school’ bills last month. GSCS asks you to let Trenton know your concerns remain strong re S10/A4 and S7/A8 NOW, as it appears that the Statehouse intends to push these bills through this Monday.

Call/email !TODAY! your local legislators, Governor Corzine (609 292 6000), Senate President Codey 609 292 5215 and Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (609 292 7065) today! For details, click here on ...

12-19-06 Feedback - articles on school funding heaings yesterday
STAR LEDGER The president of one Union County school board said all the talk of "adequate" school spending has left out an important ingredient. .."Quality is way down the list of priorities as the Legislature rushes to pass bills," said Ann Bushe, president of the Summit school board. "Why are we not talking about quality?..." "…These are based on cookie-cutter models that bear little resemblance to any of our communities," said Rosie Grant, program director for the Paterson Education Fund…” Corzine on 'Super'County Superintendent bill...Corzine said he believes that "some elements" of a measure to encourage shared services between local government entities will survive, but much work remains on the issues of pension and health benefits as well as funding for a 20 percent property tax relief credit. (NOTE: next voting session is January 8 and this bill is likely to be amended but be on the board list to be voted on - GSCS continues to work hard to see that it is not damaging to local boards obligations as well as to quality education overall)....Stay Tuned....

12-18-06 Sunday editorials - take of Property Tax session


12-14-06 Trenton News articles
'Corzine puts conditions on tax credit Governor insists on comptroller's office and 4% cap' ... Star Ledger - ...On Monday, lawmakers balked when they got their first look at the reform legislation that resulted from months of work by four special committees set up to find way to rein in school and local government spending. "We looked at the recommendations and found it was hard to find the number of votes necessary for passage -- 21 in the Senate, 41 in the Assembly -- to pass these recommendations," Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer)...Both measures face opposition among Democrats, who control both the Senate and Assembly... "Many objections have to do with the extreme powers extended to these super-superintendents," Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), said after the bills were discussed in the Democratic party meeting on Monday.

One, Glen Ridge Mayor Carl A. Bergmanson, called the plan "one of the worst proposals, one of the most bonehead proposals to come out of the Assembly, and that is saying a lot."

Press of Atlantic City 'State releases study showing how much education costs — hypothetically — in N.J.'

Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents suburban districts, said they too are concerned that the model used by the state has not been tested. “Until we can see it used in real time, you can't really tell what it would mean,” she said. Strickland also mentioned that a funding formula is only as good as the money put behind it, and there has been little discussion of how much the state would contribute and how it would be distributed. Both Sciarra and Strickland called for more time to look more specifically at New Jersey districts....

'Lawmakers may miss deadline for property tax reform'... The plan, however, faces some critics in the Senate, which did not take action on the bill. Sen. Barbara Buono, D—Middlesex, worried that Roberts' plan, which would give county superintendents a line-item veto over local education budgets, would hurt local control of schools.

Buono said the process was moving too fast and could lead to unintended consequences.

11-15-06 The Special Session Jt Committee Reports
From the New Jersey Legislature website......

11-19-06 Sunday Press Articles & Commentaries
NEWS ARTICLES Posted on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006 PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER 'Trenton funding proposal riles Abbott districts' A study calls for education money to follow students' needs, not geography.

"...Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents middle-class suburban districts, said that though she was frustrated at the proposal's vagueness: "It does make sense that we have one formula for all. The downside of the Abbotts is that it has created division.

"I don't think our government wants to see Abbotts slide," she said. "I think they want to put us together so we can move ahead in a betterway."

'Answers about property tax relief proposals' GANNETT BUREAU - Posted by Asbury Park Press

'Taking an ax to property tax problem' Sunday, November 19, 2006 By JON CORZINE, OP-ED

COURIER POST EDITORIAL- Real tax relief will depend on how relentlessly and thoughtfully lawmakers fill in the details.

11-16-06 Property Tax Proposal news articles
11-16-06 Gannett Bureau-Asbury Park Press,Courier Post et al Property tax relief plans leave questions unanswered – “…School advocates, however, clamored for more detail…."It's a tease. We'd like to see more information," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a group of mostly suburban districts. Roberts said the full formula likely won't be ready until early next year. He expects to need up to $800 million to help pay for added school funding.

The RECORD - Special interests to attack reforms Thursday, November 16, 2006

“…Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, said her members have grown frustrated that legislators are providing so few details on funding education despite the release of Wednesday's 132-page report...She added that legislators in the past have failed to keep their promises on funding education..."

Property tax plan would hurt Abbotts Legislative committees suggestions also include raising the retirement age for state employees 11-15-06 PRESS of A.C.

11-16-06 PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY - Tax ideas fall short on funding reforms

Officials hungry for specifics on tax relief proposals Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 11/16/06

11-14-06 Direction of Special Session Report Recommendations starting to leak into press articles
Panel leaning in new direction on school consolidation plans Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The idea of abolishing 600 school districts and replacing them with one for each county has faded in favor of creating "super" county superintendents to oversee local school officials and spending, members of a committee studying the issue said.

Trenton rethinking perk: Retiring at 55 A bipartisan legislative panel is expected tomorrow to recommend raising the retirement age from 55 to 62 for new state workers and requiring all state employees to contribute more to their health insurance plans.

The joint committee is one of four created in July to consider ways to lower property taxes and due to report their recommendations tomorrow. While many of the details are still being worked out, some of the lawmakers' goals are already known: • A reduction of up to 20 percent in most property tax bills next year. • A plan to increase school aid by up to $1 billion. • An increase in the powers of county school superintendents. Members of the committee on government consolidation said yesterday they are moving away from a more drastic proposal to merge all school districts into countywide systems. • Possibly the creation of a state board to identify towns and school districts that should merge, with voters getting the final say.

11-13-06 Schools, property taxes fuel debates
As GSCS predicted........Monday, November 13, 2006 The idea of abolishing 600 school districts in favor of one for each county has faded in favor of a proposal to create “super” county school superintendents to oversee local school officials and spending.

11-11-06 New school funding plan could add $1 billion in aid
STAR LEDGER 11-11-06 Jersey lawmakers next week plan to unveil the framework for a revamped school funding formula that would boost state aid by as much as $1 billion, officials familiar with the ongoing talks said yesterday. The new school funding formula outline will be part of a wide range of reform proposals by four committees that spent the summer reviewing ways to cut the nation's highest property taxes. The plans are expected to be released Tuesday or Wednesday.

11-10-06 NJ education chief vows urban support
GSCS FYI - Note that Commissioner points out in this article that a funding formula may not be released until "the end of the month". This underscores the semantic used in the 11-11-06 Star Ledger article below that states a funding formula "outline" will be among recommendations made in this forthcoming week re Special Session Committees. Press of Atlantic City ATLANTIC CITY — ...She added, however, that urban district spending of as much as $18,000 per student is higher than what is spent in the state's wealthiest districts...“Taxpayers want accountability,” she said. “It's important to be sure the money is invested in ways that benefit children.”

"...Davy admitted that the state has not come up with a new funding formula. A legislative committee on public school funding has been holding hearings, and Gov. Jon S. Corzine has asked that a new formula be proposed by Nov. 15. A proposal may be delayed until the end of the month..."

11-4-06 Senate President & Assembly Speaker 'no new taxes'
NOVEMBER 5 2006 Facing a Nov. 15 deadline for producing a plan, Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) said a revised school funding formula, government consolidation and tight caps on local spending were the main topics the two discussed during a closed-door meeting yesterday at the Statehouse. State leaders say no new levies in property tax plan Corzine considering idea as revenue option

11-1-06 Gannett 'Halved property tax called unrealistic'
TRENTON Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., D-Camden, said Tuesday talk of cutting property taxes in half is "unrealistic."

10-31-06 The Record - Property Tax Cut Debated
ASSOCIATED PRESS TRENTON -- A key legislator Monday said lawmakers are studying how to make the state pay a huge chunk of a homeowner's property tax bill, but legislative leaders said less relief would be more likely.

10-30-06 NY Times
"In New Jersey, System to Help Poorest Schools Faces Criticism"

10-21-06 Education Data Study Released - how the news is being reported
Study shows N.J. schools underfunded by $190M Saturday, October 21, 2006, The Record

..."We'd sure like to see how they are defining it," she [LynneStrickland, Exec.Director of Garden StateCoalition]said, expressing frustration at a lack of dialogue over the issues. "I would hope that we get a really open and viable discussion," she said. "These things must be aired in a public domain with enough credit given to the public to discuss it productively."

[NOTE: Strickland's comment on circuit breakers in the Record refers only to individuals under certain tax stresses, not to communities in general. The Record is printing a clarification on this that was on p. A2 of its Sunday Oct. 22 edition."Clarification Sunday, October 22, 2006

An article Saturday about school costs misstated a potential approach supported by the Garden State Coalition of Schools. The "circuit breaker" concept the coalition supports is a limit on school taxes on one person's bill that could take into account their ability to pay. ]

Star Ledger Mid-level districts short on funding, school study finds N.J. report: Hundreds feeling cash crunch

..."This is all about the bottom line, not the education or the kids." [Bonnie] Granatir said her community [Livingston] is comfortable with how much it spends. "When you look at how our children perform, they would see the money is well spent," she said. Staff writer Mark Mueller contributed to this report.

10-20-06 Education - study data released
...after suit by advocates for poor, The Record The New Jersey Education Department released documents Thursday, including some cost projections for public education, after advocates for poor children sued to gain access to the data.

10-5-06 Conversation on school funding, consolidation continues
Excerpts from Governor Jon Corzine’s speech 10-4-06 before New Jersey Leadership Council: “…As you know, the Legislature has been in special session since the summer, working on four separate but connected aspects of this issue.

10-5-06 Star-Ledger: Corzine- County districts could diversify schools...Governor links property tax relief to less segregation

Gannett 10-5: Details start to emerge on property tax plans The rough outlines of some of the plans intended to chip away at New Jersey's property tax burden became clearer Wednesday as lawmakers discussed bills that would promote merging towns and consolidating government.

School-funding panel looks to contain special-education costs - Courier Post 10-4-06 -

Proposals from the state panel on school-funding reform will focus on reducing the number of special-education students sent to expensive private schools, said committee co-chairman Sen. John Adler, D-Cherry Hill.

9-25-06 Savings Little -Costs at merged schools similar
Asbury Park Press on 09/25/06 "Maryland's model for public schools, held up by some Garden State lawmakers as a cheaper alternative to New Jersey's fragmented system, may not offer the kind of savings originally thought, two sets of federal statistics suggest..."

9-20-06 Coverage of the benefits & School Funding Jt Comm hearings 9-19-06
Educating disadvantaged kids always costs more, state is told - Star Ledger State unions warn: Don't blame us- Star Ledger

Hands off pensions, workers tell panel - Herald News

N.J.'s public employees adamant: no benefit cuts They pack hearing on reforming taxes Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 09/20/06

9-18-06 News Articles re Special Session
Hearing to air cost savings in public jobs Monday, September 18, 2006 The Record

Revision of funding hinges on special education issues Wednesday, September 13, 2006 Star Ledger

Dry hearings color tax reform debate Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 09/18/06

9-15-06 Star Ledger - 3.25B suggested for school construction
..."Put simply, this report proposes seizing money from suburban taxpayers and then telling them to fund their own school projects while using their money to build schools in cities and towns where the taxpayers are not asked to contribute a dime," said Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris), who said he will urge all Republicans to vote against new school funding. Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents hundreds of the non-Abbott communities, said the task force's recommendations raise concerns.

"It reminds us of how it was before the schools construction act, when 239 of the non-Abbott districts did not qualify for aid," she said...."

9-7-06 The Record Local Govts Poised to save as co-pays rise
Is Trenton sending a mixed message?... On the one hand - er this Record article today - the state is increasing co-pays for state employees, yet on the other hand, the Pension & Health Benefits Review Commission meeting on Sept. 15 is scheduled to discuss Assembly bill 3095, sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan. A3095 would require ALL school districts to joing the State Health Benefits plan. GSCS opposes this measure that would eliminate competitive market options for local districts, thus costing districts more in terms of literal dollars and, also very important to local district budgets, flexibility in negotiating labor contracts.

9-7-06 News re Jt Comm on Consolidation & Shared Services mtg 9-5
Gannett - Official again calls for county schools ..... Star Ledger - Maryland may show Jersey way to pare school costs

9-6-06 Articles re Jt Comm Hearing yesterday & related school news
Star Ledger - Town tries to measure the price of school pride...Hackettstown, an average district, weighs taxes and funding Gannett - School officials balk at consolidation idea

Asbury Pk Press - Tax plan could target poor schools

StarLgr Legislator: Let's erase the 'Abbott district' label

The Record - Tax panel wants change in school funding

Star Ledger - Town tries to measure the price of school pride

Star Ledger-State raises co-pays for teachers, government workers

Don't ignore fat contracts - Asbury Park Press editorial

Trenton Times - Auditor pokes hole in budget Council told it should remove projected $5.7 million in revenue

9-4-06 Weekend news articles of note
9-4-06 Star Ledger - The pressure of teacher pay 9-4-06 ASSOC PRESS (N.J. State)Web site draws impassioned pleas to revamp school funding

9-3-06 ASSOC PRESS - County school systems, property taxation equality to be examined

9-3-06 Sunday STAR LEDGER editorial-Government must get lean

9-1-06 NY TIMES - Multiple Jobs by Public Workers Strain Pension Plan in New Jersey (re Jt Common Pupblic Employee Benefits Reform hearing 8-31-06)

8-29-06 School Funding to be reviewed today
Associated Press: "The special committee on school funding reform was to hear from the state Education Department about the school funding formula, which hasn't been fully implemented for five years."........................... LIVE FROM THE LEDGER... 8-29-06 a.m. Property tax reform session focuses on schools and...8-29-06 p.m. Lawmakers squabble at school funding hearing

8-29-06 Assoc Press - School Funding to be reviewd today
"The special committee on school funding reform was to hear from the state Education Department about the school funding formula, which hasn't been fully implemented for five years." GSCS FYI - The agenda also includes presenters from 2 school districts, Union City and Brigantine; DOE presenters on school funding are Jessica DeKoninck - Director Govt Relations, Katie Atwood - Division of School Finance, and Bob Goertz - DOE Budget office.

8-29-06 Hopewell Valley article re - courtesy busing withdrawal
Dropped courtesy rides have towns scrambling ...Facing increased financial burdens, Hopewell Valley Regional School District plans to discontinue its courtesy busing service, and pass the bill on to municipalities.

8-26-06 'N.J.'s best schools in wealthiest, northern towns'
Ranking: N.J.'s best schools in wealthiest, northern towns PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY

The most successful high schools in New Jersey are in the state's wealthiest towns, according to the latest ranking of top high schools in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September issue.

The annual ranking comes on the heels of a state hearing at which the linking of state aid to poor schools with spending in the wealthiest districts was criticized. That led to a suggestion by state Sen. John Adler, D-Camden, chairman of the committee, that the state consider spending caps on the wealthiest districts.

Representatives of the wealthier suburban districts say that's counterproductive.

“We are concerned that there has been a lot of discussion of funding (by the state committee on school funding), but not a lot about the quality of education,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “We shouldn't aspire to lower performance.”

...David Sciarra, director of the Education Law Center, which represents students in 31 poor, urban school districts, said the Legislature has lost sight of why the state Supreme Court's Abbott v. Burke decision linked state spending on the Abbotts to spending in the wealthiest districts.

“It wasn't because of how much they spent. It was because they were the most educationally successful districts,” he said..."

8-23-06 Crowd assails changes to state health plan
FYI - GSCS supports flexiblility in health plans, especially allowing for dual-spouse coverage incentives, rather than the current mandate in the State Health Benefits Plan that makes full coverage a requirement for spouses (when outside plans allow one's plan to provide full coverage of the other.)................................................................. Star Ledger - "We are in a situation where rates must be in place by Jan. 1 with good lead time," said Joseph Reilly, commission chairman and assistant director of the Division of Pensions and Benefits. "We are kind of under a forced schedule." He said no date has been set to vote on the proposals...Currently, employees in 309 cities and towns, 246 school districts as well as most county governments take part in the plan. Since January, 40 school districts have dropped out in favor of what their officials saw as better private plans."

8-23-06 Live from the Ledger on-line
Newsbrief on the Jt Comm on Public Employee Benefits Reform meeting today, where legislators heard that pension benefits are a 'non-forfeitable' right of public employees who have 5 or more years in the pension system.

8-20-06 AP 'Property Tax reform bid to shift to overdrive'
AP summary look at the Special Session committees efforts to date and next items on their agenda.

8-22-06 Star Ledger Column & NY Times Editorial
Star Ledger column, On Politics from 8-18-06, foresees school funding debate framework, quoting Jt Comm on Public School Funding Chairman Senator John Adler and more....NY Times editorial on pensions, 8-22-06, while written about New York's huge pension deficit problems, could have been written about New Jersey just as well, especially when noting that "...But for all the complications of the pension issue, there is one simple, obvious, outrageous part of the problem that is easy to explain. The governor and the State Legislature have been utterly irresponsible in expanding the city’s obligations without providing any money to pay the additional cost...Leaders from both political parties in Albany love to throw large, meaty bones to municipal labor unions in return for election-year support..."

8-14-06 News Clips
Property Taxes and school funding articles.

8-9-06 Special Session Jt Comm on Consolidation of Govt Services meeting 8-8-06
This Special Session Joint Committee held its first opening hearing yesterday. Legislators comments revealed that their focus is already narrowed to finding ways to merge school districts and to merge municipalities, and their various services. There was talk of forcing that consolidation too. It is notable that many schools already share services and would welcome enabling statutory latitude to do more sharing and also to find more ways to cut costs. For schools for example, it would help if the state did not mandate dual spouse coverage for employees covered under the state health benefits plan. But the state has chosen to restrict schools in that way, even though towns and counties and higher education insitutions do not have the same requirement imposed on their entities. GSCS is wary of the committee's rather preordained approach here, while real cost drivers are seemingly put on the side. It is with particular interest that we read Star Ledger writer Tom Moran's article today that exposes the reality underlying their premise that merging local government units will provide meaningful property tax reform. Read to see what Moran concludes, bolstered by New Jersey local government expert Ernie Reock's [emeritus/Rutgers] take.

8-9-06 article re today's Jt Comm on Public Employee Benfits Reform


8-8-06 NY Times Public Pension Plans Face Billions in Shortage


7-25-06 Associated Press Prop Tax Q & A
(This article "Q: Will property taxes actually go down? A: Stay tuned..." is a valuable overview regarding the property tax conundrum and worthwhile reading.) "...The outcome (of Legialture's Special Session on Property Taxes) remains to be seen, but here's what New Jerseyans might want to look for as their lawmakers try to take the first real steps toward reforming property taxes in about 30 years..."

7-18-06 Live from the Ledger
Lawmaker pitches his property tax relief plan

7-16-06 (thru 7-21-06) Bergen Record series investigate cost of NJ public services & property tax link
Record series on why public services cost so much, starting w/ Sunday 7-16-06 Can N.J. afford the rising cost of teachers and cops? Sunday, July 16, 2006

......"But in the Record poll, 41 percent of respondents blamed the state for their swelling tax bills, making the governor and state lawmakers the top-ranked villains.

There's wisdom in their choice. State officials have made sure that in the delicate balance of contract negotiations, the police and teachers unions have a thumb on the scale......

So we have unions that look out for teachers and police and we have a Legislature that looks out for teachers and police and we have nobody with any real clout looking out for the taxpayer, who is now shelling out an additional penny in sales tax -- a 17 percent increase -- on top of a hefty bump in property taxes......."

7-16-06 Bergen Record series investigate cost of NJ public services & property tax link
Record series on why public services cost so much, starting w/ Sunday 7-16-06 Can N.J. afford the rising cost of teachers and cops? Sunday, July 16, 2006

......"But in the Record poll, 41 percent of respondents blamed the state for their swelling tax bills, making the governor and state lawmakers the top-ranked villains.

There's wisdom in their choice. State officials have made sure that in the delicate balance of contract negotiations, the police and teachers unions have a thumb on the scale......

So we have unions that look out for teachers and police and we have a Legislature that looks out for teachers and police and we have nobody with any real clout looking out for the taxpayer, who is now shelling out an additional penny in sales tax -- a 17 percent increase -- on top of a hefty bump in property taxes......."

7-12-06 Column on State Budget legislator items
Corzine sees 'pay to play' can apply to budgets, too Democratic legislators had agreed earlier that day to increase the sales tax. Now, behind closed doors, they wanted payback.

And it came in the form of $330 million in spending programs that were stuffed into the budget during that overnight meeting -- without any hearings, without any real scrutiny.

7-12-06 Statehouse starts talking specifics about property tax reform
Headline - "Corzine lays out agenda on property tax reform - Governor targets revamping of local services and state school aid"

"...You don't have to be a genius or a rocket scientist to understand that all the proliferation of services isn't the most efficient way...," Corzine said.... (Senate President) Codey pointed out that municipalities have been sharing services going back 15 years, and said the real future savings are to be found in school districts... ...The governor said he was prepared to endure the political fallout from opening up the discussion, because the special session presented such a rare chance to affect change...."

7-13-06 Articles - Property tax issues, teacher salaries, voucher suit filing
A continuing stream of news articles indicate that things are heating up at the Statehouse regarding ways to address property taxes. GSCS support the special session but has concerns and questions that will not go away. Some legislation has already been proposed to deal with property tax reform, so that when the Task Forces that follow the special session begin their hearings, the outcomes may already be prejudiced. While it looks like there will be few lazy summer days in Trenton, the opportunities to have a viable conversation with the public and to research questions - without being influenced by preconceived legislative positions - may be limited by time and sentiment. GSCS suggests you keep apprised of what's being promoted and spoken about from Trenton's perspective - stay informed and be ready to speak up when called.

6-30-06 State Budget news - as the dissonance must be resolved
Read to get a sense of Trenton's ambience going into the final 'deadline' day to produce a state budget for FY07.

6-29-06 Mirroring the elements, State Budget looking like a 'natural disaster'
Related latest articles & columns, representative of what's going on - and what's not - in Trenton (GSCS has been a daily observer of the process) to resolve the state budget for Fiscal Year 2007. With the Governor threatening to eliminate 500M in "basic school aid" and 300M in municipal aid if legilislators don't pass a budget that includes his 1 cent sale tax hike, the pressure is being felt all around. Legislators on both sides of the aisle and in both the Senate & Assembly meanwhile are looking to provide a link between any tax increase to property tax relief. GSCS and legislators have noted that bringing special education 'extraordinary aid' towards its statutory promise is an effective way to do that - a good faith demonstration to local taxpayers as well as public education students, no matter where they reside, that Trenton 'get's it' and is trying to help alleviate competing program needs v. rising property taxes.

6-25-06 State Budget issues: legislative branches conflict - news articles
While the Senate and the Assembly continue to disagree on how to arrive at a budget for FY07, Friday's deadline is only 5 working days away. The Senate has proposed an alternative that links property tax relief to raising taxes..."Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, said that proposal has the potential to assuage concerns over raising taxes. "I will not support the sales tax unless there is some nexus between it and property tax relief," said Buono, a member of the Senate budget committee. "In order for that to be a viable option, we need to tie it to property tax relief, and we could start doing that right now." With Democrats holding a slim Senate majority and several senators already openly opposing the sales tax hike, any further defections against the plan could seriously damage its chances of passage. In the Assembly, where opposition to the sales tax is stronger, Democratic Party leaders remain opposed to the tax hike..."

6-21-06 Star Ledger - Washington DC Bureau re graduation rates & quality education
Graduation rates in New Jersey secondary to none "The reports -- from the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education, publisher of Education Week, and the National Center for Education Statistics in the Department of Education -- showed New Jersey's graduation rate well above the national average of approximately 70 percent...

...Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents 110 mostly suburban public school districts, added that it is not just the education infrastructure that accounts for the state's showing.

"In general, New Jersey has a highly educated population; we have high income levels and many, many schools have a high degree of parental involvement," she said..."

6-20-06 News articles re State Budget FY07
The Record, Gannett/Asbury Park Press; Home News Tribune, et al, Star Ledger

6-15-06 Star Ledger, Gannet articles- Abbott advocates demand school reform at educ. dept
Pointing their fingers at the state, "Advocates demand Abbott school reform" "...Assistant State Commissioner Gordon MacInnes, who oversees the Abbott implementation, is a chief target in the advocates' call for new leadership. But he said yesterday that advocates appear to center more on compliance and procedures and not as much on student achievement..."

6-14-06 Assembly Minority Budget Leader Joe Malone's Op Ed
15 steps to control spending, trim property taxes Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/14/06

"...New Jersey homeowners have reached the breaking point. Aid to suburban schools has been essentially frozen for the past five years while property tax rebate programs have been slashed...The freeze in school aid has had a dramatic impact on the growth of local property tax bills. By failing to fully fund the CEIFA school aid formula, districts have had to turn to local taxpayers to make up the difference in lost aid..." Read to learn the Republican's position on how to address property tax relief/reform and state budget deficit.

Editorial on benefit of using UEZ surplus for spec educ aid for this year
Press of Atlantic City - GSCS supports this editorial on Senator Buono's proposal to use Urban Enterprise Zone surplus this year to aid disable students' extraordinary program needs "...The surplus UEZ money ... can be used responsibly now, to help get the state over a particularly tight year, without either destroying the UEZ program or putting fiscal prudence at risk..."

6-12-06 News Clips
Star Ledger - Education department anxious for next boss Long transition a drag on staff and reforms Monday, June 12, 2006

New York Times - Corzine Shifts to Collegiality on the Budget 6-12-06

Star Ledger - Property tax relief is eye of Corzine's budget storm...Lawmakers seek a give & take before they back spending plan Monday, June 12, 2006

Editorial Asbury Park Press - Child placement disparity Saturday, June 10, 2006

Editorial - Crack down on perks Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/12/06

The Record-Preschools fail to clear teachers Monday, June 12, 2006

Weekend News Clips re Property Tax & School Funding issues
Articles & editorials from The Record, Press of Atlantic City, Courier Post, Gannett, Star Ledger, NY Times, Asbury Park Press. Read to keep up to date on State Budget FY07 pressures and the overriding question of what to do with property tax revolution - exaccerbated by 5 years of frozen stateformula aid - combined with the recognition that school funding needs to be stabilized so that our schools don't get leveled down...Includes article where NAACP criticizes Governor Corzine for holding Abbott to flat funding for next year.

6-9-06 Star Ledger ' Salary review bill hits roadblock'
Education Department tells panel it lacks manpower to check every school chief's contract

6-7-06 News Articles re Leg Summer Session work on Property Taxes
How does the media see the Legislature's plan to tackle property tax reform? How do others see it? Look to the end for related articles... Read these articles as beginning primer

6-6-06 Star Ledger re Special Summer Session
The discussion on property tax relief appears to be 'getting a life'....Trenton's summer forecast: Tax relief. Lawmakers plan to start a special session in July Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6-5-06 Editorials on school funding & State Budget articles
The link between property taxes and school funding is inextricable. Extraordinary aid for special education is practical property tax relief and symbolically serves to show that Trenton gets that link...GSCS continues to advocate for property tax relief in FY07 via special education extraordinary aid, a category of aid that has not met its promise(by law) since 2003. The critical importance of this aid is two-fold: not only does it saving taxpayer dollars, it is also helps all of our students programs - regular as well as special needs. Because the need for programs for children whose costs exceed $40K at any given time is unpredictable, this aid also helps keep districts from 'falling off the edge of the cliff' during the school year. Trenton Times Editorial Plain speaking to the schools Friday, June 02, 2006 re: Commr Davy at GSCS Annual Mtg

Star Ledger Don't raid the fund Saturday, June 03, 2006 re Senator Buono's property tax relief efforts & finding special educ extraordinary aid

Star Ledger Editorial Scrutinize Abbott budgets Monday, June 05, 2006 re 10 out of 31 Abbotts appeal funds

State budget battle rumbles into home stretch 6/4/2006, The Associated Press

3 lawmakers seek union givebacks Democrat trio, proposing way to freeze sales tax, expect to be 'vilified' -- and they are Star-Ledger

6-1-06 Star Ledger Thursday article on GSCS Annl Mtg
State, suburban school execs confer, and little love is lost Thursday, June 01, 2006

And, as the annual meeting wore down, Marlboro Superintendent David Abbott posed a question about school construction that might have applied to his peers' mood in general: "How do we see through all this fog any light at the end of the tunnel?"

5-30-06 News Articles
Associated Press...School projects need $5.4B Friday, May 26, 2006

The Bergen Record...Low Vote Turnout Prompts Calls for Changes Tuesday, May 30 2006

The Daily Record...Assembly Speaker aims to scale back size of government Friday May 24 2006

5-21-06 Sunday Courier Post on Schools' hiring
WHAT DO YOU THINK? What are your thoughts on school staffing or the situation in your school district? Let us know by sending an e-mail to cpmetro@courierpostonline.com or calling (856) 486-2401.

Schools still hiring freely By LARRY HANOVER Courier-Post Staff

This has been the year of budgetary shock therapy, with urban school districts being told by the state Supreme Court to adjust to a halt in spending increases and suburban districts having budgets rejected by voters at the highest rate in a decade.

But while it's been fashionable for school districts to blame the state for their fiscal problems, a review of district hiring patterns shows that's hardly the full story.

At a time when enrollment has been almost flat in New Jersey's 31 special-needs districts, those districts added to their staffs at a rapid rate, with two additional staff members for every three new students, according to a Courier-Post review of state Department of Education data.

In the tri-county area, districts such as Gloucester City and Pemberton Township increased staff, despite fewer students.

On average, suburban teaching and administrative staffs were up by one employee for every additional seven students over three years.

One-fifth of tri-county suburban districts added jobs as enrollment declined, and others simply added at high rates.

Cherry Hill, for example, ranked second statewide in number of jobs added among suburban districts and is paying a price this year with stiff job cuts.

The Courier-Post analyzed figures for enrollment and certified staff -- which accounts for teachers and administrators -- for 2001-02 to 2004-05. Suburban aid freezes began after 2001-02.

Clearly, the state's sharp rise in special-education student numbers, exacerbated by increased requirements for staffing those classes, can explain increases in many districts and likely justify job figures in many suburbs, said Richard Ten Eyck, a former Department of Education assistant commissioner now working as a Trenton-based consultant.

But particularly with the 31 Abbott districts, which by court order receive funding on par with their wealthiest neighbors, plus dollars for supplemental programs to raise achievement, an influx of cash appears to have spurred a staff influx, too, he said.

"There's no state in the union that has as much money behind urban education as New Jersey does now," Ten Eyck said. "Which gives flexibility -- read: luxury -- to have staffing patterns they aren't able to do anymore."

Ironically, while Camden gets blasted widely for fiscal problems, it is also one example of keeping the numbers of teachers and administrators under control.

Under state oversight, Camden has actually shed 38 staff members.

That's in contrast to other Abbotts like Paterson, which leads New Jersey with 435 additional teachers and administrators in that span. Elizabeth is the state leader in total jobs added, including clerks and custodians, with 639 more.

Overall, the Abbotts, which have stiffer staff demands from court-mandated preschools, have added 2,300 certified jobs, but just 3,500 students, according to Education Department statistics. As with non-Abbotts, increases were mainly in teachers, not administrators.

In Gloucester City, 43 jobs were added from 2001-02 to 2004-05 even though the number of students fell by the same amount.

District spokeswoman Lynda Lathrop said hiring decisions have been driven largely by a high special-education population, while the push to increase test scores has led to hiring tutors and others.

"That makes your (staff) population go up," she said. "Small class size has been shown to equal success for students."

On May 9, the state Supreme Court approved Gov. Jon S. Corzine's request for a landmark freeze in aid to the Abbott districts.

As for the suburbs, there were 46,000 more students compared to 6,400 added jobs, a 7-to-1 ratio.

One-third of tri-county districts responded to aid freezes by the state by holding their percentage rate of staff increases at or below the rate of student increases.

But one-fifth hired even as enrollment declined, including places like Magnolia and New Hanover.

New Jersey Education Association spokeswoman Lynn Maher said the number of English language learners has required more staff members.

Cherry Hill hired roughly 2 1/2 certified staff members for every additional student from 2001-02 to 2004-05, or 283 employees for 108 new students. District spokeswoman Susan Bastnagel said some of the employee count might have been an error. The 2006-07 budget includes a reduction of 13 teachers and 62 employees overall.

District union chief Vivian Robinson praised interim Superintendent Timothy Brennan, who replaced Morton Sherman in December, for implementing controls despite the price in union jobs.

Brennan said part of the problem is Cherry Hill's reputation for quality special-education programs, which lures parents to town. But that wasn't the sole explanation, he conceded.

"We concluded we had to trim down (the budget)," he said. "We called it lean, not mean."

Predecessor Sherman said he could not recall hiring details, though he said the addition of elementary foreign-language teachers was a factor.

In contrast, Lindenwold added only five staff members, compared to 290 more students.

Superintendent Geraldine Carroll said the district has trimmed everything from field trips to middle-school athletics to be responsive to taxpayers.

Reach Larry Hanover at (856) 486-2470 or lhanover@courierpostonline.com

5-23-06 News Articles
Gov. Corzine's proposed tax rebates in trouble...In a 5-2 ruling that clarified its recent Abbott 'freeze decision' the Supreme Court eases its Abbott order; the court nowstipulates that the state provide additional state aid to cover for costs of opening new schools for the 2006-2007 school year.

5-23-06 AP 'Codey to propose school ballott change'
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - School election ballots would include the percentage increase of proposed tax levies under legislation announced Tuesday by Senate President Richard J. Codey....He said the bill would keep voters informed, increase school district accountability and encourage more frugal fiscal practices.

5-14-06N Y Times 'For school budgets the new word is NO'
Read to see common denominator of high property tax issues and how towns and schools are coming together at the local level to help....."FOR decades, voting yes in a school budget election on Long Island was as natural as mowing the lawn on Saturday morning. Both things happened regularly because strong public schools and well-maintained lawns were integral to the unwritten suburban compact that had everyone working toward a common goal of maintaining property values.

But while the lawn-care rule still holds, school budget votes have become much more unpredictable."

5-17-06 Trenton Times - School Aid, budget dominate forum
Legislators, community meet in Hightstown & East Windsor. Focus is on state school aid, property tax burden.

5-16-06 News fromTrenton
Press of Atlantic City- New formula in the works for funding N.J. schools Star Ledger - Davy says Education Dept. faces doing more with less;Legislators sympathize with the acting commissioner and suggest adding employees

Ocean County Observer: Corzine advisors - Call property tax session for July

Press of Atlantic City: Legislators urge direct aid for state special services schools

5-10-06 A Lot is going on - Major News fromTrenton
Star Ledger 5-10-06 - Top court orders 'Abbott freeze' but lets schools appeal Gannet State Bureau in the Asbury Park Press on 05/10/06 - Court upholds aid freeze to 31 districts

Associated Press in Press of Atlantic City 5-9-06 ‘Unanimous court rules poorest school districts must trim budgets’

Phila Inquirer - N.J.'s tight rein on neediest schools is upheld while justices allowed the hold-the-line budgetary

New York Times - Court Allows Corzine to Freeze Aid to Poor School Districts

School budgets might be taken off the ballot Associated Press in Asbury Park Press on 05/10/06 — April school elections would be moved to November, but New Jersey voters would lose their say on school budgets under long-discussed legislation

Star Ledger 5-10-06 on Assm Budget hearing - Superintendents take heat on 'obscene' compensation

Asbury Park Press 5-10-06 on Assm Budget Hearing - 31 ABBOTT DISTRICTS: Get about half of state aid COMMISSIONER: Work at poor schools has just begun- Lawmakers seek to identify schools to remove from list

News articles re even less state revenue & SCI scapegoating
School officials chafe under criticism MOORESTOWN..."The gathering of Burlington and Camden county school superintendents represented districts ranging from Moorestown -- wealthy and recently named by one publication as America's best place to live -- to cash-strapped Willingboro, where district mismanagement forced a $10 million state bailout.

But their common ground was abundant -- the feeling that a recent state report on superintendent perks has led legislators to unfairly paint them with a broad, negative brush, scapegoating them all for skyrocketing property taxes, failed budgets and other problems..."

[and] Low tax collections cost (New Jersey) $500M Friday, May 05, 2006

5-5-06 News articles Gannett and Courier Post
Tax collection shortfall is more bad news for budget; Camden school funds request shocking; Camden fuels doubt over district's needs

One example of schools consolidating services
THE Record, 3-31-06 BERGENFIELD -- "The school district has partnered with Dumont and New Milford to open a new program for students with autism this coming fall...Tri-Valley Academy will accommodate the growing number of autistic children in the three boroughs and share staff development and transportation...The classes will be modeled after the Valley Program, a public school program in the Northern Valley for autistic children...The new program is aimed at cutting costs while keeping the level of education high."

4-16-06 Courier Post


4-16-06 Star Ledger editorial & article re Gov v. Abbott from 4-15-06
It's time to rethink Abbott...Editorial Sunday, April 16, 2006... "The two topics most likely to rile civic-minded New Jerseyans are property taxes and Abbott schools. It is becoming more difficult for those who support statewide funding for impoverished schools, including this newspaper, to keep the two issues from becoming one contentious discussion." 4-8-06 Court to hear Abbott case..."With state dollars only growing tighter, the battle over how to pay for the landmark Abbott vs. Burke school equity ruling is headed back to the state's highest court."

4-16-06 Sunday NY Times Metro Section, front page
(The New York Times explores impact of S1701 on school budgets. A clear credibility gap is ever-widening between legislative 'take' and local reality. Parent & community family groups, such as the newly formed COFFEE [see "Links" on the sidebar] are rising up from the grassroots in response to Trenton's disconnect.) Headline - In New Jersey, Spending Cap Pinches Schools

"As residents of New Jersey prepare to vote on their school budgets on Tuesday, educators and parents say that they are struggling with a major crisis forcing districts to cut programs, shed staff and charge fees for things that were once free. The chief culprit, they say, is not a public opposed to public education, or an onerous federal mandate, but a recent state law ..."

40-16-06 Gannett & Asbury Park Press on School Budget election issues
Headline- Schools asking for more from local taxpayers..."Because of years of little or no increases in state aid, school districts are relying more on local taxpayers to fund public education...Still, there is fear among school officials that backlash over property taxes — the top issue during last fall's elections that now gets scant mention in Trenton — will be taken out on their budgets...John A. Meyerle, chairman of the New Jersey Coalition for Property Tax Reform, which is pushing to fund education more through the state's income tax, said the state has to stop cutting funding to local districts. "The state, for all intents and purposes, is making the schools look a whole lot worse than they really are," Meyerle said.

4-13-06 'Budget cap puts NJ schools on edge'
N.J. law leaves little room to maneuver as taxes rise. By Kristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer - read about South Jersey school districts having to cut back on programs due to S1701.

4-7-07 The Record
Corzine cuts, tax hikes likely to stick Friday, April 7, 2006

3-31-06 AP 'Budget idea puts onus on income taxes, businesses'


3-28-06 NY Times re Texas school finance case
Another state, similar issues re property taxes and funding support for public education, different approaches, differenet results...still stymied. "Most local tax rates have reached that limit, and in November the state's Supreme Court ruled that the school financing system amounted to an illegal statewide property tax because districts no longer had discretion in setting their rates..."

3-25-06 Press of Atlantic City
"Hammonton's High, Avalon's Low" ...Beyond the costs, the bottom line issue remains the huge disparity among property tax rates in the state and the need to create a new and more stable way to fund schools.

“When state aid is not there, the only place communities have to go is property taxes,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which has been lobbying heavily for a new school-funding system.

3-29-06 News Articles on State Budget testimony before the Assembly Budget Comm. yesterday in Collingswood
Assembly Budget Chairman Louis Greenwald and Committee members were lukewarm to considering additional funding for schools - GSCS noted that special education funding remains flat since FY02 even though an additional 17,000 students have been classified since then - in general, as well as municipalities and even colleges[hit w/a $169M cut in Gov Corzine's proposed budget]. The main struggle that will ensue on this FY07 budget is going to be between the Governor's office and the legislature on raising taxes..... As for schools, the Assembly representatives were posing the SCI report that focused on 71 districts' administrator salary packages and the SCC school construction investigations as a shield against considering local needs of public school children or property tax relief. While both of these issues raise very legitimate concerns that need addressing now, not only at the local level but more effectively at the state level, the issues should not function as a way for Trenton deflect reality.....The context is this: if the FY07 budget does not provide formula aid for *regular operating districts, FY07 will be the six straight year that Trenton chooses not to update basic formula aid to support public education fiscal & student needs in nearly 550 communities[*excludes Abbotts, and others not applicable, such as non-operating districts, county vocationals]....Enrollment has grown over these years; property taxes have risen dramatically since aid has been suppressed over this time frame, and in effect, reflect the indirect "tax" local communities face in having to support mandated programs, including maintaining the constitutionally required "thorough and efficient" education for their students, when the state does not provide its share of support. We ask our state leaders - will you address the cost drivers that are well outpacing budget caps, such as health benefits and special education, by devising new policies that could help control the annual growth of the costs? (see sidebar/'School Funding Facts, etc.' GSCS chart on local levy growth FY02-FY06 in reg. operating districts v. special education and health benefits costs in the same time frame that shows that nearly 2/3 of the levy growth of 2.4B is taken up by those costs alone.)

3-29-06 News Articles on State Budget testimony in Collingswood 3-28-06


3-10-06 Star Ledger 'Time is ripe for poorer districts to contribute.
Breaking new ground? Read to see how GSCS, Deputy Commissioner Gordon MacInnes/Abbott Division at the Department of Education, and the Education Law Center literally & figuratively are on the same page at the same time.

3-22-06 News Article sampling on Governor's Proposed FY07 Budget
GSCS was in the Assembly gallery to hear Governor Corzine's-the mood was sober and the message somberly received.

3-19-06 Millville, Vineland may lose Abbott status
Press of Atlantic City: In 1996, the Vineland school district received almost $63 million in state aid.

By 2005, its state aid had grown to $122 million.

3-19-06 Sunday News Articles on State Budget


3-15-06 News articles on FY07


3-15-06 NY Times 'Crisis at School Agency Reflects Missteps'
NEWARK, March 14 — In this city's Ironbound section, the principal of the Hawkins Street School keeps in his office an artist's rendering of an annex that was supposed to be added years ago.

3-10-06 News articles GSCS related issues
Governor spoke to S1701 question at Monmouth Town Meeting; Column on Abbott districts contributing a fairer share of taxes to their school programs; School construction management changes; Assembly Education legislators disagree on Abbott mission,more

3-7-06 More articles on the Gov's Budget Summit and School Board members fo to Trenton


2-14-06 TrentonTimes Letter to the Editor on school construction
Hamilton Twp citizen weighs in on SCC lack of funding for suburban district

2-11-06 Trenton Timesn'NJ State Budget has little wiggle room'
'Spending cuts may be hard to find' This article does cite some required aid increases to schools, and notes additional Abbott funding required and leaves open what the additional funding is for regular operating districts. GSCS is investigating what Treasury is citing those allocations to be. We suspect they are for items such as pensions and social security as opposed to aid that would go to programs and new students at the local district level.

2-9-06 Star Ledger School agency reformers discuss goals, problems
School agency reformers discuss goals, problems Current projects running over budget, and all 'suburban' money is gone

2-10-06 Star Ledger editorial re void of credible & useful data at Department of Education
"As basic as a blackboard" For a number of years GSCS has called for the state to upgrade, update and use student performance and district data in order to make informed choices and implement effective policy decisions. This editorial speaks to the same issue.

FUNDING HISTORY - May 27 1998 - Education Week article re Abbott V - funding above parity
Although Trenton often cites the cost of Abbott as being driven by spending in high wealth districts, that statement is misleading and has not been actual for seven years. In Fiscal Year 2005, approximately $581M over parity was awarded by the state to Abbott districts in 'supplemental aid'.Read to understand why parity funding has not been the ultimate cost driver of Abbott funding since 1999. "High Court in N.J. Ends Funding Suit"

"...In addition, they said they expected the city districts, because of their greater needs, to require an as-yet-undetermined amount of funding above the average in wealthy districts. But they concluded that the required spending level should not be set by the court, but instead be driven by specific needs identified by individual districts and demonstrated to the state..."

1-26-06 New York Times article re public schools fundraising for private support
"In Public Schools, the Name Game as a Donor Lure" e.g.,"...Newburyport, a charming New England seaport with a lively tourist trade, does not look like a town where the schools would be pressed for money. But looks can be deceiving: School officials say their budget is so tight that, even after imposing an array of parent-paid fees for activities and transportation, Newburyport has had to cut elementary school foreign language and middle school theater classes and assign one principal to cover two of the district's three elementary schools..."

1-25-06 Star Ledger 'School District's Woes Point to Rising Tax Resistance'
Highlighting what education officials say is a growing tension between New Jersey's rising school costs and the property taxes that pay for them, a South Jersey school district's failed attempt to raise property taxes to plug a huge budget gap could prompt widespread layoffs... ..."These kind of things are really exacerbated in the condition we are under with school funding," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. "Property taxpayers are overwhelmed, while state [CEIFA formula] aid has not been increased for five years."

1-24-06 Asbury Park Press 'Funding sparks heated debate'
Read this important article. It is a dramatic example of the conflict brought to a head where the state has not implemented its own school funding law since the 2001-2002 school year, combined with restrictions imposed via S1701. In order to provide a T&E education for its students, Freehold Borough is faced with the Hobbesian choice: having to raise even more property taxes to fund the state's own recommendations to hire additional staff and some of that staff would be classified as 'administrative' which likely would not be allowed under S1701 limits. The state makes recommendations that the borough may not be able to initiate due to already burdened local taxpayer and due to its own law that does not allow for administrative growth. And, what happens to the students who need a T&E education in order to achieve annual yearly progress?

1-15-06 Sunday Star Ledger front page on Property Taxes
Property taxes soar 29% in 4 years - Corzine says reform won't come easily On Tuesday, Democrat Jon Corzine takes office as governor with a pledge to boost property tax rebates and ask lawmakers to devise a long-range solution to an issue that has bedeviled New Jersey for decades. "I understand why the public is inflamed," Corzine said. "We have the highest. It really is the problem that people say it is." The governor-elect said he remains committed to his campaign vows: "rebates, in the short term, while we get our tails in gear to deal with real reform."

1-12-06 Star Ledger 'Lawmaker pushes tax relief plan'
Proposal to save about $1,200 a household after state income surtax, Manzo asserts

1-12-06StarLedger 'Lawmaker pushes his tax relief plan'
Proposal to save about $1,200 a household after state income surtax, Manzo asserts

1-11-06 Star Ledger - Corzine Casts Wide Net for Cabinet


1-6 thru 1-9-06 articles on Lameduck session and School Construction


1-5-06 Monmouth county article on S1701 ramifications,examples - hitting hard at home
A bill that was designed to provide short-term property tax relief is beginning to have an effect on numerous school districts throughout New Jersey. S-1701, a bill that was enacted into law during the administration of former Gov. James McGreevey in the summer of 2004, was designed to reduce property taxes by placing certain restrictions on school district budgets.

However, the bill seemed to have the exact opposite effect of its intended purpose and in fact property taxes in several municipalities have been raised since the enactment of the law.

1-1-06 Press of Atlantic City


12-30-05 School Construction and Education Funding news clips
Philadelphia Inquirer, Trenton Times, Star Ledger, Herald News, Gannett.

12-20-05 Star Ledger on NJ Supreme Court decision on stalled school construction
Justices deny cash to finish schools. State given a Feb. 15 deadline for construction cost estimate

12-20-05 Star Ledger 'Schools lower the heat and risk a backlash'
'Cooler classrooms will save money, but the move isn't cool with some parents' This article reports on S1701 pressure re maximum 2% surplus v. soaring heating costs.

12-20-05 Star Ledger

12-20-05 The Record 'Where Will the Bills End?' NJ Supreme Court releases its opinion on stalled school construction program.
State education officials have until February to produce cost estimates for finishing a stalled multibillion-dollar school construction program, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday.

12-14-05 Asbury ParkPress Editorial 'Re-assess the ABC's of School Funding' notes the Governor's role is critical to make positive change
...The school funding formula, which sends 61 percent of all state education aid to the 31 poorest school districts, the so-called Abbotts, is patently unfair. It's only a matter of time before a challenge to that formula succeeds. The Board of Education should stop dragging its feet. .....He[Governor-elect Corzine] needs to go beyond that. He must take a comprehensive look at the way school aid is distributed, how it is spent and how school performance can be improved without spending more money.

12-16-05 Star Ledger Schools may end courtesy busing, tied to S1701 budget stressors
Parsippany board seeks cost savings...The school board may again consider curtailing courtesy busing in Parsippany as it tries to stay within state-imposed spending limits while confronting a 2006-07 budget replete with rising costs.

12-16-05 News articles of note
Star Ledger re GSCS President Stu Schnur, Montgomery Schools Superintendent, announces June 2005 retirement; Courier Post on heating costs to skyrocket as Trenton has approved 24+% rate increase; Record article on low passage rate of school bond referenda vote this past Tuesday; Trenton Times article on $100M+ committed to Abbott districts in late June state budget agreement not being paid to those districts yet; Star Ledger editorial on legislative spending needs to be curbed.

Trenton Times 6-25-05 State Budget FY06 and Democrat Tensions


Activists Hope to Revive School Funding Issue
6-18-05, Press of Atlantic City, School may be ending for the summer, but the battle for a new school-funding law is just getting started.

12-15-05 Star Ledger School bond plans get resounding 'no'
With fiscal outlook grim, just 7 of 19 funding plans win approval...The school building bubble appears to have burst in much of New Jersey. Due to a combination of the state's school funding morass and more local concerns, New Jersey voters -- or at least the few who braved the cold -- backed just seven out of 19 school building proposals on Tuesday, the lowest approval rate since 2001.

Time Magazine
GSCS quoted in 1996 article

12-10-05 Star Ledger Schools might get heating help as bill gains on spending caps
Faced with an unexpected increase in energy costs, New Jersey school districts could get a break from the state's controversial spending limits to help them pay their utility bills.

On Star Ledger


12-8-05 Asbury Park Press Mom takes up the torch for school funding
Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which opposes the new law, called Newsome a great organizer and spokeswoman for the cause. "Kim is a committed and motivated advocate, who has been of real value to the coalition and has really joined in our effort," Strickland says.

Copyright © 2005 Asbury Park Press. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. (Updated June 7, 2005) Site design by Asbury Park Press / Contact us

12-5-05 Governor-elect Corzine selects policy advisory groups
Corzine Announces Additional Advisory Groups Distinguished panels to advise transition leadership on implementing Corzine Agenda.

11-28-05 Star Ledger 'It's Lame-duck time in Trenton'
NOTE: that school budgets re S1701 amendment legislation are pointed out in the sidebar of the hard copy of the paper as 1 of 7 "...items that may be on [the] agenda...and that..."Lawmakers are facing mounting pressure from school boards and parents groups to relax portions of the tight spending limits that were imposed on school districts in 2004. Repeal of the spending bill S1701 has been a rallying point for months for the New Jersey School Boards Association, the Garden State Coalition of Schools and other lobbying groups. Their press for action on two bills that would relax the spending caps has been stepped up in the face of sharp increases in fuel cotst this fall."

11-20-05 Sunday Star Ledger 'Corzine's risky promise to taxpayers
Includes mention of Corzine's position to hold both a special session and constitutional convention,

The Record 11-18-05 Corzine's tax fix to mean 'pain'


11-17-05 Trenton Times 'Education Chief announces testing overhaul'


11-15-05 N Y Times article
U.S. Supreme Court Ruling - Parents carry the burden of proof in special education cases.

11-13-05 Star Ledger Sunday front page 'Blueprint for 6 Billion Dollar Boondagle
Article on school construction: "Waste, poor management and politics crippled the state plan for urban school construction."

11-14-05 The Record Herb Jackson on Whitman experience a lesson for Corzine
How a unified legislature and Governor's office - all the same party - may not be so unified on the issues.

11-11-05 Trenton Times Corzine puts property taxes at the top of his agenda


11-9-05 The Record - Governor Elect can't claim a mandate


Assoc. Press NJ 6-10-05 Codey Brokering Deal on Tax Convention
Associated Press, NJ, 6-10-05, Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey is trying to rally support among Senate Democrats for legislation proposing a constitutional convention to overhaul New Jersey's highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

Gubernatorial Candidates' Education Plans announced September 05
Be informed, review and reflect.

November 9 The Trenton Times - Corzine Triumphs


November 7 YOUR VOTE TOMORROW COUNTS ... Some news articles worth reading
What happens in Trenton directly affects your local schools, communities and so important, the quality of your children's education. Your local Assembly races are a key to the legislative process. Even more, the Governor of New Jersey has the strongest powers of any governor in the United States and his policies will impact public education deeply in the next four years. In the end, it is up to you - via your vote - to take the lead in helping shape New Jersey education policies. MAKE SURE THAT YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FRIENDS VOTE TOMMOROW.

11-4-05 Star Ledger State Board of Education calls for revamping school funding


10-23-05 Sunda Star Ledger article on how property taxes work
This is a good article that describes the variables that go into impacting your local property taxes and why one district tax bill differs from another's even when their towns have similar wealth and patterns.

10-4-05 Trenton Times NJ may replenish school building fund.


10-16-05 Sunday Star Ledger & Gannet news articles on gubernatorial candidates take on important issues related to public education issues
"...On other issues, the two candidates have largely kept to traditional party lines, although some education advocates have voiced frustration that neither candidate has addressed the current financial squeeze on many schools. "Both have been very standoffish on school funding," said Lynne Strickland, director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a suburban schools group. "It's the elephant in the room. ... Whoever is elected will not be able to avoid it..." [Star Ledger/JMooney]

10-19-05 Courier Post-Gannett article on Gubernatorial Debate
EWING Democrat U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester showed differences in the way they would appoint Supreme Court justices and similarities on the question of intelligent design Tuesday, in their second and final televised debate.

Groups Seek Attention from Candidates 10-12-05
Among other groups, New Jersey School Boards Association presses its point in promoting plan to reduce proerty tax reliance for education funding by increasing income tax on the wealthy to replace some of the property tax burden.

10-6-05 and 10-12-05 Forrester v. Corzine, Corzine v. Forrester articles
Representative articles from October 11 2005 101.5 Gubernatorial debate and related comments on gubernatorial candidates positions on public schools re: October 5, 2005 Press Briefing by Reock Ad Hoc School Finance Group.

10-4-05 Trenton Times School Construction fund may be replenished


9-29-05 Star Ledger 'NJ in hole for $53M after vote on school funds promised for construction
A $2.5 billion fund set up to help suburban communities build public schools is running on empty after voters approved 21 construction projects that would draw almost double the amount of money remaining in the fund. Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a lobbying organization for more than 100 school districts, said she is not convinced the fund is tapped out. "They can find the money," said Strickland, citing the history of accounting problems that have dogged the schools corporation. "It's pretty irresponsible of the state to let the districts go on without any certainty."

9-26-05 Star Ledger School Construction Making the Grade is Now Up to the Voters


9-22-05 Some news articles on the press conference - Gannett and Star Ledger


9-23-05 Star Ledger School Construction on next Tuesday's bond referenda
Summit, New Providence noted.

9-12-05 Associated Press Rutgers initiates new education institute
Former Commissioner of Education William Librera will head up the institute

9-9-05 Trenton Times,Corzine Education Agenda


9-9-05 Asbury Park Press Corzine plans 25M education agenda


Star Ledger 9-9-05 Soaring gas costs result in towns asking for cap relief
GSCS' position that certain cost drivers beyond local district control - utilities, energy costs, health benefits, insurances - can have very negative impact on school budgets especially in unforeseen circumstances, is sadly already proving true. Gas prices will mean program reduction unless the state provides cap waivers for these soaring costs...Surplus is so restricted [2% for schools] that schools do not have flexibility to provide for these unpredictable expenses, and bond rating houses do not smile on dipping into such resources already severely limited by the S1701 law. See article.

Star Ledger 8-31-05: Though few, new schools open doors for kids
Though few, new schools open a door for the kids. The state has made a mess of the school construction project, and now has no money left to finish the job. It is enough to make you throw up your hands and scream. It is even tempting to give up and kill the program before one more dollar is wasted.

8-19-05 Head of School Construction Agency Resigns Abruptly, Compounding Agency Turmoil


Trenton Times 8-12-05 School funding sought
Education Law center files suit for Abbott districts to continue receiving 100% school construction aid from state.

Star Ledger Front Page 8-16-02 School districts run for school construction aid
Aid lapse for suburbs as September bond referenda approach.

Herb Jackson Column 7-18-05 Budget 'cuts' more a case of creative math
Record columnist writes about how (and for what) bottom line of state budget is higher - by approx. $650B - than is cited.

Herb Jackson Column 7-18-05 Budget 'cuts' more a case of creative math


The Record 'get's it' Read Editorial 7-14-05


Star Ledger 7-13-05 Codey Puts Constitutional Convention on Hole


The Record7-10-05 Sunday Front Page Must Read
Political Ties Grease the Way for School Funding

Star Ledger 7-7-05 Local school officials told state may not provide promised construction funding


The Record 7-3-05 State Budget Doles Out Money


The Record 7-4-05 Rebates safe, but tax problem not nearer solution


The Check it out - Press of Atlantic City 7-6-05 Education Funds lie in Budget Fine Print


Star Ledger 7-2-05 Late Night Budget Passes


The Record 7-2-05 State Budget Passes


Gannet 7-2-05 State Budget and School Aid


Asbury Park Press 6-28-05 Senate Passes $20M for 5 school districts


Philadelphia Inquirer 6-30-05 Dueling Budgets Will Miss Deadline


Asbury Park Press 6-30-05 No Consensus in Trenton on Spending Plan


Trenton Times 6-30-05 School Construction Review Panel Formed


Star Ledger 6-30-05 State Budget Finale on Hold


Star Ledger 6-29-05 Bid to Save Tax Rebates Imperils NJ Budget


The Record 6-29-05 Tax Plan Quitely Dying

Trenton Times 6-25-05 State Budget and Democrat Tensions


Star Ledger 6-17-05 Seniors want tax convention, Senate prefers Special Session


050618 Press of Atlantic City 'Activists Look to Revisit School Funding Issue
Commissioner Librera, GSCS Executive Director Lynne Strickland, and Education Law Center Director David Sciarra, Esq., quoted.

6-16-05 Philadelphia Inquirer Commission Librera Releases Abbott Designation Report
Librera said the number of districts affected could be "as low as three" or "as high as eight." Aid to disqualified districts would be phased out over four years. "There certainly will be some changes," he said.

In the report, Librera also noted that the state should consider the broader issues of the statewide funding formula. State aid to local districts other than the Abbotts has been flat in recent years, and many communities believe taxpayers have been overburdened.

Star Ledger 6-4-05 GSCS Annual Meeting Forrester & Schundler


Assoc. Press NJ 6-10-05 Codey Brokering Deal on Tax Convention


Star Ledger 6-14-05 Legislators Assail School Building Agency at Hearing


Star Ledger 6-13-05 Legislators Assail School Construction Corp


Trenton Times 6-10-05 Rebate Debate on Budget for FY06


Star Ledger June 3 2005 Advance article, Annual Meeting noted


Gannet on Annual Meeting 6-4-05 Forrester, Schundler Address School Concerns


Gannet on Annual Meeting 6-4-05 Candidates Address School Concerns


Assocated Press, In the Homestrech Forrester and Schundler Talk Education


Class Sizes Disappoint Glen Ridge Parents


SCC reforms underway 'Jump Starting the Effort to build New Schools' Star Ledger May26 2005.
Jump-starting effort to build new schools As residents cite broken promises, reformers act to revamp program Thursday, May 26, 2005 BY DUNSTAN McNICHOL Star-Ledger Staff


Trenton Times 5-24-05 Codey Plans for Less Pain in Budget


Preliminary School Election Results from NJ Dept of Education


Jersey Journal article
School Construction Corporation

State Health Benefit Plan Star Ledger 4-8-05
Possibility of State Health Benefits Plan going private stimulates questions and controversy re State Budget for Fiscal Year 2006.

Taxes, ire both on rise
Rain was pouring on Saturday across Gloucester County, but Gary Schneeman, a Clayton resident and owner of Clayton Building Supplies, was talking about a different kind of soaking.

NJ lawmakers want the state to join education law protest
A group of state lawmakers hopes New Jersey will join other states protesting the federal No Child Left Behind Act by proposing a bill asking for more funds and flexibility in the landmark education law.

Panel Tells of Referenda Woes
Local school officials facing the prospect of relying on voters to approve spending increases if their districts accept state gambling money heard first-hand Wednesday night how voter referenda changed education in nearby states.

GSCS Parent Leader Molly Emiliani-Livingston & GSCS Director Lynne Strickland present to Pennsylvania Bucks County
Requiring school budget voting.

Hopewell valley School Board Approves $63M Budget
To keep at cap, officials had to make employee and program cuts.

Schools will seek Extra Funding
A controversial state law that caps annual school district spending increases at 2.5 percent has forced the Board of Education to place an extra question on the April ballot seeking money to pay for teachers, supplies and middle school renovations.

Rebate Panic
Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey has proposed to save $1.2 billion in the 2006 budget by eliminating some homestead rebates and reducing others.

Lack of funds amid surplus of concerns
After working just six years at a convenience store, Rosland Waddell earned almost as much as she did as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home in Voorhees, where she worked for 16 years.

Enrollment Dip Hurts Special Schools
Tuesday, March 15, 2005, from NJ.com (The Times)

Costly School Site Fiasco Spurs Assembly Measure
From the Star Ledger, Tuesday March 15, 2005

Teacher Seeks Family to Fight Abbott Rulings
March 14, 2005 from NJ.com (Gloucester County Times)

Panel OKs Constitutional Convention on Tax Reform
Friday, March 11, 2005 from nj.com (The Times)

Jersey Halts New Pacts for School Construction
Inspector general to review contracts. Friday, March 11, 2005 NJ.com (The Star Ledger)

Schools Face Enrollment, Aid Dilemma
Thursday, March 3, 2005 from NJ.com, The Times

Cut is sought in Abbott District Aid
NJ.com March 3, 2005

Local News - Cuts plentiful in NJ budget proposal


Amid probe, agency to cut school costs
Construction chief trims tasks
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff


Acting governor faces tough sledding on deficit
Sunday, February 20, 2005
North Jersey.com

Parents Give Cody an Earful
Succesful effort bears repeating: Parents reach out to one another to "Let Governor Codey hear directly from us on how we feel about S1701"

Thursday, February 17, 2005, from the Bergen Record.

Courier Post Online


Article Mt Laurel GSCS Summit 2-10-05


Bill to loosen school budgets altered
Published by the Gannett State Bureau 1/25/05

WNBC Interview
Most of us think public education, by definition, is free education -- but

Educators urge parents to fight school spending cap
1/20/05 from the Daily Record
Parents can expect larger class sizes, fewer teachers and the loss of courtesy busing, athletics and fine arts,

Assembly Panel Weighs Plan for a Property Tax Convention
1/14/05 from The Star-Ledger
An Assembly committee began consideration yesterday of a proposal for an unprecedented convention with the power to put before the voters both constitutional and statutory changes designed to lower property taxes.

Tax-reform debate takes sharp turn
1/14/05 from the Home News Tribune
The tone and content of the debate over a constitutional convention to reform property taxes took a sharp turn yesterday, as lawmakers posed pointed questions during a hearing and interest groups criticized the plan from an array of angles.

School funding plan gets OK from panel
1/14/05 from the Asbury Park Press
State lawmakers Thursday took the first step toward loosening some restrictions on school spending that, when approved last June, had generated vehement opposition from education groups.

Legislature Acts to Revamp School Spending Caps
1/14/05 from The Star-Ledger
Lawmakers back off from the strict budget limits they imposed in June

Educators to Argue for Repeal of Cap Law
1/17/05 from the Daily Record Newsroom
On Wednesday, local educators will take their case to the public, explaining why they believe new spending restrictions on public school budgets will not provide a long-term curb on school taxes.

State must devise tests to comply with No Child Left Behind
12/6/04 from the Newark Star Ledger
New Jersey in the next 18 months must nearly double the number of students it tests to keep in step with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

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