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

Media reports on GSCS Press Conference in Trenton 10-22-07 re School Funding/Formula

Radio-

nj1015.com; also reported on radio from Philadelphia and Newark stations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 - Millennium Radio



 

Remember all the talk a year and a half ago about the importance of creating a new school funding formula in Jersey - to lower property taxes?

The Joint legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform actually did issue a report last November - about how the formula should be changed - but the report was shelved, and nothing was ever done.

Now, the Garden State Coalition of Schools is pressing State officials for immediate action - to create a school funding formula that improves educational quality in a more fair and balanced way - and lowers property taxes in the process.

Coalition Executive Director Lynne Strickland says "we're tired of waiting - people in the communities have been calling for this - legislators are not discussing it during the election - so this is a jump-start, a heads-up…we're still asking politely - but we're near making a demand that - hey- come on, get off the stick, let's get this conversation going - we know the Governor Talked about it - but we still haven't seen any action."

Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts says "whether it's done in the lame duck session (right after the election) or whether it's done at the very early part of the year remains to be seen, but rest assured, it's something we're going to be talking about and working on."

By: David Matthau
(Copyright 2007 by Millennium Radio Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)


Millennium Radio New Jersey
http://www.nj1015.com/

 

Television  NJN.net   link to Monday 10-22-07 report at   http://njn.net/television/webcast/njnnewsmonday.html

(The report on GSCS is approximately 7 minutes into the news show.)___________________________________________________

GANNET NEWSPAPERS:

 

Advocates want pre-election school funding debate

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 10/23/07 (Eastern New Jersey/Monmouth-Ocean)

Group urges debate on school funding

Posted by the Courier Post 10-23-07 (South Jersey)

School advocates: Campaigns lack talk of education spending Broad discussion urged before Election Day; N.J. funding plans uncertain

Posted by the Daily Record (Morris County ) 10-23-07

School district advocates stump for more state aid
Garden State Coalition of Schools argues for new funding formula.

Posted by the Courier News 10-23-07 (Central New Jersey)

BY JONATHAN TAMARI
GANNETT STATE BUREAU

Post Comment

TRENTON — School funding affects property taxes and education in every municipality in New Jersey and should be debated before Election Day in two weeks, advocates for a statewide coalition of public schools said Monday.

But, they said, no one is talking about the issue on the campaign trail.

"School funding policy and the need for a (new school funding) formula have virtually been ignored going into the seventh year now, and that is just too long," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents more than 150 school districts.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine said Monday he hopes to unveil a new formula by the end of the year and have a debate that coincides with work on the state budget, which typically lasts from February through June.

"I think that's a good idea to have stakeholders have the ability to review what we have put down at this point," Corzine said at an event in Tinton Falls.

The new formula will determine how districts split $8 billion worth of state aid to help pay for education and offset the need for local property taxes. The formula has not been followed since the 2001-2002 state budget, leaving support for wealthy, middle-income and some poor school districts stagnant.

Strickland said it could take more than $1 billion in additional support to adequately fund the state's schools, although she said that amount could be phased in. State officials, however, are instead looking for ways to cut as much as $3 billion from the next state budget.

The coalition called for a new formula that would require local taxpayers to cover no less than 15 percent of their operating budget and no more than 85 percent. Currently taxpayers in poor, urban districts covered by the Abbott v. Burke Supreme Court rulings pay for 17 percent of their local education costs, on average, while in wealthiest districts the local homeowners are responsible for more than 91 percent of their school costs, according to the coalition.

Strickland said school aid should factor in efficiency and also effective education that does not diminish existing standards. The new formula should be updated each year to account for changes in communities' wealth and school enrollments, she said.

Reform talk has percolated for more than a year without any changes.

School officials at Monday's Statehouse news conference said years of under-funding haved led to education cuts.

Linda Nelson, vice president of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education, said that even after a 4 percent tax increase this year, the board had to trim $1.8 million from its $74 million budget. That meant, among other things, one fewer language arts teacher, one less Air Force ROTC coordinator than required and cuts in spending on music equipment.

Jonathan Tamari: jtamari@gannett.com

______________________________

RELATED

(1)   STAR LEDGER - Talks with Corzine have poor schools fretting over funds

State's Abbott districts fear budget squeeze

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BY DUNSTAN McNICHOL

Star-Ledger Staff

Superintendents of New Jersey's poorest school districts left a special meeting with Gov. Jon Corzine last week convinced the state's fiscal woes will leave them grappling with little or no increases in state aid in the upcoming state budget.

"It wasn't right out saying, 'Flat funding, live with it,'" said Passaic superintendent Robert Holster. "But those of us who have been in the business for a long time could pick up the signals."

Corzine said his meeting with superintendents of the 31 school districts awarded special funding under the state Supreme Court's Abbott vs. Burke rulings was not a state aid forecast. "It doesn't portend anything at this stage," the governor said yesterday.

Corzine said he "made clear we have severe challenges," but insisted the one-hour meeting convened by state Education Commissioner Lucille Davy at the governor's request was more general in nature.

"We were actually having a dialogue about audits and how we communicate with each other and pretty standard sorts of views about performance of our kids," he said.

Word of Corzine's unusual meeting with the superintendents came as the issue of how to handle state school aid began heating up. The so-called Abbott districts annually receive about half the $7.5 billion dispensed in state aid.

Dozens of suburban school board members from Chatham to Cherry Hill gathered in Trenton yesterday to press for a quick start to public debate over a new state aid formula.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Education, in a letter faxed to Abbott district superintendents, said the local officials should build only a cost of living adjustment of 2.89 percent into their upcoming budgets for a court-mandated preschool program that serves tens of thousands of poor youngsters.

Corzine, whose administration has been working behind closed doors on a new aid formula, said he hopes to unveil a proposal before the end of the year, but that he will not seek legislative adoption until next year.

"It's a good idea to actually have stakeholders have the ability to review what we have put together at this point and begin the dialogue, but it will be one of the issues that needs to be taken up by the new Legislature," Corzine said. "We're weeks from getting it out."

Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, a coalition of about 150 suburban school districts that sponsored yesterday's news conference on school funding, said Corzine needs to show his cards quickly.

"We have heard talk before," she said. "We are hoping the governor is committed to action and will follow through."

The formula is politically volatile because it could shift hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid out of some communities and into others, depending on how the plan evaluates local needs.

During his meeting with the Abbott superintendents last week, for example, Corzine warned that lawmakers looking for spare dollars in the face of a $3.5 billion budget shortfall have pressed him to consider diverting at least $450 million in Abbott school aid to other communities, a strategy he said he is resisting.

Staff writer Deborah Howlett contributed to this story. Dunstan McNichol may be reached at (609) 989-0341 or dmcnichol@starledger.com.

______________________________

re (2) Executive County Superintendents

Super mission: Cut school costs: County schools chief named to new post  Posted by the Ocean County Observer on 10/23/07

BY DON BENNETT AND JONATHAN TAMARI/STAFF WRITERS

Named yesterday as Ocean County's executive superintendent of schools, Bruce Greenfield has been given a mission to cut down the cost of education with better coordination and oversight of individual school districts.

Greenfield, of Ventnor City, who has been Ocean County's superintendent of schools for the past five years, was one of 10 nominated by Gov. Jon Corzine for the new super superintendent's posts created by the Legislature.

The 10 executive county superintendents, if confirmed by the Senate, will be charged with proposing school mergers for all districts that do not have K-12 schools and promoting service sharing between schools. The new officers will also have veto power over some school spending.

The positions were created to empower school officials and help reduce the need for property taxes to pay for education.

Greenfield yesterday said it is "still early in the process" of deciding how the broader powers over school finances and organization will play out. Coupled with a state school funding formula, Greenfield said he will be getting "added fiscal responsibilities."

Exactly what they will be will be determined by the regulations that grow out of the legislation that created the jobs as part of the effort to reform property taxes in the state.

Corzine spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said the of-ficials will now have more power to implement change.

The most controversial power is the ability to recommend school mergers. Local voters would still have the final say over any proposed consolidation.

"Once we see the parameters and responsibilities in the regulations, we'll have a better idea what I need to do and how to do it," Greenfield said.

The change could include implementing a new state school aid formula. Corzine said yesterday he hopes to unveil a new formula by the end of the year and have a debate that coincides with work on the state budget, which typically lasts from February through June.

"I think that's a good idea to have stakeholders have the ability to review what we have put down at this point," Corzine said at an event in Tinton Falls.

The new formula will determine how districts split $8 billion worth of state aid to help pay for education and offset the need for local property taxes. The formula has not been followed since the 2001-2002 state budget, leaving support for wealthy, middle-income and some poor school districts stagnant.

The change could help ease problems that have split towns that are parts of the Central and Southern regional school districts because of what critics call inequitable tax payments by wealthy communities to support those systems.

Sharing services, consolidating and budget reviews all are part of the charge to the new executive superintendents.

"We're in the in-between stage right now. It's very early in the whole process," Greenfield said.

Corzine announced his intention to name Greenfield and the nine others yesterday. It is subject to the advice and consent of the state Senate.

The governor charged the executive superintendents with helping cut the state's highest-in-the-nation property taxes.

The new positions were created during the special legislative session to deal with property tax reform.

The new executive superintendents are charged with looking for efficiencies and cost savings in the administration and operation of schools.

They can disapprove parts of school budgets in any district where administrative economies have not been made, or if there is too much proposed spending for non-instructional programs.

They are also charged with getting rid of school districts without schools, and developing a plan to consolidate or enlarge regional systems to eliminate those districts that do not offer kindergarten-through-12th grade programs.

Voters would retain the final say on eliminating those grade-school districts.

The new executive superintendents will also work to control costs by developing special education programs and services in school districts and sharing them in each county. Meanwhile, advocates for a statewide coalition of public schools complained that even though school funding affects property taxes and education, no one is talking about the issue on the campaign trail.

"School funding policy and the need for a (new school funding) formula have virtually been ignored going into the seventh year now, and that is just too long," said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents more than 150 school districts.

Strickland said it could take more than $1 billion in additional support to adequately fund the state's schools, although she said that amount could be phased in. State officials, however, are instead looking for ways to cut as much as $3 billion from the next state budget.

The coalition called for a new formula that would require local taxpayers to cover no less than 15 percent of their operating budget and no more than 85 percent. Currently taxpayers in poor, urban districts covered by the Abbott v. Burke Supreme Court rulings pay for 17 percent of their local education costs, on average, while in wealthiest districts the local homeowners are responsible for more than 91 percent of their school costs, according to the coalition.

Strickland said school aid should factor in efficiency and also effective education that does not diminish existing standards. The new formula should be updated each year to account for changes in communities' wealth and school enrollments, she said.

Reform talk has percolated for more than a year without any changes.

School officials at yesterday's Statehouse news conference said years of underfunding have led to education cuts.

_______________________________________________________
 
LOOK FOR: GSCS Op- Ed piece to be published in the Bergen Record soon; GSCS' paper "Funding New Jersey's Schools" to be featured on the Hall Institute website.
_______________________________________________________

Oct-22-07 Governor to Nominate 10 Executive County Superintendents

NEWS RELEASE
Governor Jon S. Corzine
October 22, 2007

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Press Office
609-777-2600

GOVERNOR TO NOMINATE 10 EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS

Advances Goals of Long- Term Property Tax Reform

TRENTON - Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced his intention to nominate 10 Executive County Superintendents who will begin serving in an acting capacity pending confirmation by the State Senate later this fall. The Executive County Superintendent positions were created through one of the key property tax reform measures enacted during the Special Session on Property Tax Reform and are a significant component of the historic package of long-term reform and over $2 billion in immediate property tax relief instituted by the Governor and Legislature this year.

"This Administration is committed to enacting and promoting fiscal responsibility," said Governor Corzine. "Executive County Superintendents will have all the tools needed to help us achieve real property tax reform by encouraging schools districts to prioritize their spending decisions, maximize efficiency and control costs. In fact, we're already seeing positive results from another key reform measure - the caps on tax levies - and the work of the Executive County Superintendents will build on that success so we can reduce New Jersey's highest-in-the-nation property taxes."

The new tax levy caps and an increase in State aid have reduced the annual increase in the school tax levy to 4.4%, the lowest since the 97-98 school year. Over the last three years, the increases were 6.6%, 5.9%, and 6.0% respectively.

The Executive County Superintendents will examine administrative and operational efficiencies and cost savings within the school districts of the counties represented. They will monitor performance in the five key components of school district effectiveness under the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum: instruction and program; personnel; fiscal management; operations; and governance.

Each Executive County Superintendent will have the authority to disapprove portions of a school district's budget if a district has not implemented all potential administrative efficiencies or if a budget includes excessive non-instructional expenditures. In addition, the Executive County Superintendents will be responsible for developing plans to eliminate school districts that do not operate schools and for recommending and developing a school district consolidation plan to create or enlarge regional school districts in order to eliminate all but K through grade 12 districts, subject to voter approval. Furthermore, the Executive County Superintendents will work with school districts to control costs by developing in-district special education programs and services and shared special education services within each county.

Executive County Superintendent appointments are subject to advice and consent of the Senate. The individuals announced today have been appointed to serve in an acting capacity, and their nominations will be submitted to the Senate once it reconvenes. The search process to fill the remaining Executive County Superintendent positions is ongoing.

Governor Corzine intends to nominate the following for appointment as Executive County Superintendent:

CAPE MAY EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

Nominate for Appointment Terrence J. Crowley (Pilesgrove, Salem)

CUMBERLAND EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

Nominate for Appointment Adam C. Pfeffer, Ed.D . (Stone Harbor, Cape May)

GLOUCESTER EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

Nominate for Appointment H. Mark Stanwood, Ed.D . (Pitman, Gloucester)

HUDSON EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

Nominate for Appointment Robert Osak (North Brunswick, Middlesex)

HUNTERDON EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

Nominate for Appointment Gerald J. Vernotica, Ed.D. (Long Valley, Morris)

MIDDLESEX EXECUTIVE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

In addition to Gov. Corzine addressing timetable more specifically in some of above articles,  Trenton responses to date:

Senate Democrats News Release 10-23-07

TURNER: THE CREATION OF AN EQUITABLE FUNDING FORMULA

FOR ALL STUDENTS IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY

 

     TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, New Jersey's leading education advocate and Chair of the Senate Education Committee, released the following statement today regarding the need for a new school funding plan, after today's Garden State Coalition of Schools news conference, which focused on the need for a new funding formula:

     "The creation of an equitable funding formula, one that provides a fair system for all students, regardless of family income or location is absolutely necessary. The current formula that the State uses when distributing educational funding hasn't been updated in nearly seven years, and it does not accurately reflect the amount of financial support needed for districts that have experienced significant enrollment growth and increased numbers of special needs students. These outdated formulas are the main cause of ever-increasing property taxes.

     "It is time for New Jersey to provide categorical educational support for all students, regardless of income or educational level. The funding system has to be fair for all students, which means that the new formula must ensure that the funding follows students. Special education budgets must also be more fully funded. Our special needs students deserve the best possible educational opportunities available, and by providing increased funding, the State would be providing these students with the training they need to become self-sufficient, productive members of society.

     "The new formula must also call upon increased responsibility for the State's Abbott districts. I am most definitely in favor of providing increased funding for students in low income districts, but all school districts must be more accountable for how the funding is used.

     "The formula is long over-due, and I look forward to working with Governor Corzine and the State Department of Education to take the necessary steps to ensure that New Jersey remains an educational leader for years to come."

_____________________________________________________

Assembly Republican News 10-23-07 release

BECK SUPPORTS GARDEN STATE COALITION OF

SCHOOL'S CALL FOR NEW SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA

Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck today said she supports the Garden State Coalition of School's (GSCS) efforts in calling for a new school funding formula which she says is essential to providing an efficient and thorough education for all students as well as reforming New Jersey's property tax system.

     "Every student in New Jersey should be afforded a quality education," said Beck, R-Monmouth and Mercer. "I hope Governor Corzine and the Democrat leadership will give the GSCS' recommendations serious consideration."

     The Associated Press on Sunday reported that Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, D-Camden, expects legislators to focus on a new school funding formula once they return to action following the Nov. 6 legislative elections, and that Governor Corzine is optimistic a new funding plan will be ready.

     Some of the proposals by the GSCS include requiring the new formula used to determine state aid be reworked to reflect the fiscal realities within various districts. Any formula legislation should be sensitive to not only the community's 'local fair share,' but also to individual residents' income capacity, and should be updated annually. Also, special needs and disabilities must receive state support aid no matter where they live.

      Beck noted that property taxes cannot be reformed and significantly reduced without an equitable school funding formula. "We cannot have one without the other," the 12th Legislative district lawmaker said. "I just hope the Democrats don't continue to make this a partisan issue and play politics with our children's educations and future.

      "This state needs a comprehensive new formula that is fair, flexible, sustainable and responsive to both student and community needs and we need it now," Time is running out so immediate action is necessary.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828