Home About GSCS What's New Issues School Funding Coming Up
Quick Links
Meeting Schedule
NJ Legislature
Governor's Office
NJ Department of Education
State Board of Education
GSCS Testimonies
GSCS Data & Charts
Contact Us

Email: gscschools@gmail.com
Phone: 609-394-2828 (office)
             732-618-5755 (cell)

Mailing Address:
Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
160 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Newsletters and More
Sign Up
Search
Twitter

10-25-06 Details on Corzine Administration's new funding formula starting to emerge
(FYI - special education funding as a categorical aid is being reviewed by the administration and may be equalized instead into the base foundation aid in a new adequacy formula.GSCS would oppose such a divisive and destabilizing move. In essence, hundreds of districts could be negatively impacted if this aid category were equalized, yet the state would gain money to distribute otherswise, since the aid those districts had been receiving would be freed up and could be recycled. ) GSCS Board Meeting, Atlantic City, 10-25-06 Below are excerpts from today’s news reporting on the Department of Education’s presentation on the initial proposal for a new school funding formula to the Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform, October 24, 2006.

LEGISLATURE’S DEADLINE STILL SET FOR NOV. 15 • Yesterday's presentation was the first time state officials had publicly discussed the school cost report, which was produced in 2003. The report's conclusions, up dated with statistics from the 2004-05 school year, were released last week after an advocacy group successfully sued the state to make them public. • • State officials said it will take them another week or two to deliver lawmakers an updated version of the cost study, using enrollment and expenses from the 2005-06 school year. • • Augenblick's (adequacy’s study’s consultant to the DOE) formula was applied to the 600-plus school districts in New Jersey and concluded the total tab for providing an adequate education to the school children in New Jersey should be $15.3 billion -- or about $8,000 per student. …..That compares with the $14.9 billion taxpayers actually spent on their schools in 2004-2005, a number that does not include costs for transportation, pre-school, retirement benefits and other costs. • • (According to officials at yesterday’s hearing) Statewide, there was a $375 million shortfall on spending.

• Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents middle-income and wealthier districts, said they have been picking up the slack for low state funding and need relief. • • Is $8,500 per year enough to educate the average public school student in New Jersey? Using two different methods, the report suggested a base cost of about $8,000 per student in K-8 districts and almost $8,500 per year in K-12 districts. That amount does not include extra money for students with disabilities, limited English or other special needs which could add thousands of dollars to that figure. …..The report also included little data on how the state arrived at those numbers, leaving legislators to speculate on their relevance even as a Nov. 15 deadline for a new formula looms. • Education advocates at the hearing said they thought the estimate was low and noted that using the old school funding formula, the base amount for this year is about $9,000. • • Doria said legislators still have to grapple with how much state aid will be given and how it will be distributed among the districts. That resonated with Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, who represents middle-class suburban districts which have been caught in middle of flat state funding and are feeling the pinch of property-tax hikes.

       GSCS Board Meeting, Atlantic City, 10-25-06   

Below are excerpts from today’s news reporting on the Department of Education’s presentation on the initial proposal for a new school funding formula to the Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform, October 24, 2006.

 

LEGISLATURE’S DEADLINE  STILL SET FOR NOV. 15

·         Yesterday's presentation was the first time state officials had publicly discussed the school cost report, which was produced in 2003. The report's conclusions, up dated with statistics from the 2004-05 school year, were released last week after an advocacy group successfully sued the state to make them public.

·          

·         State officials said it will take them another week or two to deliver lawmakers an updated version of the cost study, using enrollment and expenses from the 2005-06 school year.

·          

·         Augenblick's (adequacy’s study’s consultant to the DOE) formula was applied to the 600-plus school districts in New Jersey and concluded the total tab for providing an adequate education to the school children in New Jersey should be $15.3 billion -- or about $8,000 per student. …..That compares with the $14.9 billion taxpayers actually spent on their schools in 2004-2005, a number that does not include costs for transportation, pre-school, retirement benefits and other costs.

·          

  • (According to officials at yesterday’s hearing) Statewide, there was a $375 million shortfall on spending.

 

  • Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents middle-income and wealthier districts, said they have been picking up the slack for low state funding and need relief.
  •  
  • Is $8,500 per year enough to educate the average public school student in New Jersey? Using two different methods, the report suggested a base cost of about $8,000 per student in K-8 districts and almost $8,500 per year in K-12 districts. That amount does not include extra money for students with disabilities, limited English or other special needs which could add thousands of dollars to that figure. …..The report also included little data on how the state arrived at those numbers, leaving legislators to speculate on their relevance even as a Nov. 15 deadline for a new formula looms.

·         Education advocates at the hearing said they thought the estimate was low and noted that using the old school funding formula, the base amount for this year is about $9,000.

·          

·         Doria said legislators still have to grapple with how much state aid will be given and how it will be distributed among the districts. That resonated with Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, who represents middle-class suburban districts which have been caught in middle of flat state funding and are feeling the pinch of property-tax hikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Officials hammering out school-spending formula

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 10/25/06

BY LARRY HANOVER

GANNETT NEW JERSEY

 

TRENTON — Lawmakers are focusing their efforts on lowering property taxes, but they could be on the path to spending more on schools.

 

After a hearing of the state panel on school funding, co-chairman Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, said preliminary Department of Education numbers presented Tuesday on the costs of an "adequate" education seem to indicate more state aid is necessary, not less.

 

He wouldn't explicitly say that should translate into income or sales tax increases but was insistent that more dollars must be found.

 

"There's not a big mystery here," Conaway said.

 

Later, Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, hinted that selling an asset could be an alternative, ruling out sales or income tax increases. As governor, he had hinted at selling the New Jersey Turnpike.

 

"There's more than one way to skin a cat," Codey said. "You can always sell the cat."

 

The joint panel heard from Education Commissioner Lucille Davy and an expert who crafted a formula on adequate spending.

 

The department calculated averages for 2004-05. Davy said 2005-06 figures should be ready soon.

 

That leaves little time before the Nov. 15 deadline for coming up with a school-funding formula.

 

The numbers, analyzed by an advocacy group for the 31 poorest districts — including Asbury Park, Keansburg, Long Branch and Neptune — show those districts spent close to what the department measured as adequate. Middle-income districts showed a $360 million gap while the wealthiest districts spent $166 million above what was considered needed.

 

Statewide, there was a $375 million shortfall on spending.

 

Conaway said there is no politically feasible way to cut significant aid to the poorest districts, which have been hammered for receiving 58 percent of all state aid despite having only one-fifth of New Jersey students.

 

Using two different methods developed by Denver-based consultant John Augenblick, the department said it calculated a cost of $8,000 per student for K-12 districts to provide an adequate education, with costs higher in districts with fewer students.

 

That excluded calculations for special education and help for low-income students. When adjusted, said Allen Dupree, a department school-funding expert, the formula can work for the poorest as well as the wealthiest districts.

 

Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen, fumed about talk of spending more money.

 

"It's amazing to me that we have centered ourselves on hearing from witnesses that have almost universally told us we're not spending enough money," he said.

 

The Education Law Center's David Sciarra found the $8,000 average too low. The wealthiest districts are spending $11,000 in comparison, he noted.

 

Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents middle-income and wealthier districts, said they have been picking up the slack for low state funding and need relief.

 

Gannett New Jersey reporter Jonathan Tamari contributed to this report.

 

 

State school funding may increase

By LARRY HANOVER
Courier-Post Staff


TRENTON

Lawmakers are focusing their efforts toward lowering property taxes, but they could be on the path to spending more on schools.

After a hearing of the state panel on school funding, co-chairman Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington City, said preliminary Department of Education numbers presented Tuesday on the costs of an "adequate" education seem to indicate more state aid is necessary, not less.

He wouldn't explicitly say that should translate to income or sales tax increases, but was insistent that more dollars must be found.

"There's not a big mystery here," Conaway said.

Later, Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-West Orange, hinted that selling an asset could be an alternative, ruling out sales or income tax increases. As governor, he had hinted at selling the New Jersey Turnpike.

The joint panel heard from Education Commissioner Lucille Davy and an expert who crafted a formula on adequate spending.

The department calculated averages for 2004-05. Davy said 2005-06 figures should be ready soon.

That leaves little time before the Nov. 15 deadline for coming up with a school-funding formula.

The numbers, analyzed by an advocacy group for the 31 poorest districts -- including Camden, Burlington City, Pemberton Township and Gloucester City -- show they spent close to what the department measured as adequate. Middle-income districts showed a $360 million gap while the wealthiest districts spent $166 million above what was considered needed.

Statewide, there was a $375 million shortfall on spending.

Conaway said there is no politically feasible way to cut significant aid to the so-called Abbott districts.

The Abbotts have been hammered for receiving 58 percent of all state aid despite having only one-fifth of New Jersey students.

Using two different methods developed by Denver-based consultant John Augenblick, the department said it calculated a cost of $8,000 per student for K-12 districts to provide an adequate education, with costs higher in districts with fewer students.

That excluded calculations for special education and help for low-income students. When adjusted, said Allen Dupree, a department school-funding expert, the formula can work for the Abbotts as well as the wealthiest.

Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest, fumed about talk of spending more money.

The Education Law Center's David Sciarra found the $8,000 average too low. The wealthiest districts are spending $11,000 in comparison, he noted.

Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents middle-income and wealthier districts, said they have been picking up the slack for low state funding and need relief.

Gannett New Jersey reporter Jonathan Tamari contributed to this report. Reach Larry Hanover at (856) 486-2470 or lhanover@courierpostonline.com
Published: October 25. 2006 3:10AM

 

Press of Atlantic City- panel debates cost of education

By DIANE D'AMICO Education Writer, (609) 272-7241
(Published: October 25, 2006)

TRENTON — Is $8,500 per year enough to educate the average public school student in New Jersey?

The variety of responses to that proposal at a state hearing Tuesday offered a glimpse of why developing a new funding formula for state school aid is harder than a question on the state high school math exam.

Like Goldilocks rummaging through the three bears' house, state legislators examining how the state's 600 public school districts operate speculated that some spend too much and some spend too little.

But, there is still no agreement on what might be just right.

The state Department of Education took a stab at it Tuesday, offering an overview of more than two years of work in determining just what a basic education should cost.

Using two different methods, the report suggested a base cost of about $8,000 per student in K-8 districts and almost $8,500 per year in K-12 districts. That amount does not include extra money for students with disabilities, limited English or other special needs which could add thousands of dollars to that figure.

The report also included little data on how the state arrived at those numbers, leaving legislators to speculate on their relevance even as a Nov. 15 deadline for a new formula looms.

Education advocates at the hearing said they thought the estimate was low and noted that using the old school funding formula, the base amount for this year is about $9,000. David Sciarra of the Education Law Center, which represents poor children, sat in the audience muttering as legislators questioned Education Commissioner Lucille Davy, Allen Dupree, manager of policy and research for the DOE Office of School Funding, and consultant John G. Augenblick, who appeared on a live video feed.

In July, the Education Law Center sued to obtain the data from the state study and received some of it last week. The data posted on its Web site indicates that in 2004-05, schools in the state spent just less than $15.4 billion to educate 1.4 million children. However, about $375 million more was needed to reach what was called “adequacy.”

The center's analysis also indicated that the poorest and richest districts were the closest to funding “adequacy,” while the suburban and other poor districts were short by 10 percent to 17 percent.

Legislators, faced with trying to cut property taxes, control state spending and provide more money for schools, questioned the report from all angles.

“Just because the (wealthiest) districts are spending a lot, that doesn't mean it's money well spent,” said Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform chairman Assemblyman Herbert Conaway Jr., D-Burlington-Camden. “There are districts that spend far less that are successful.”

One state model was based on spending in 305 so-called “successful” districts based on state test results.

Sen. Joseph Doria Jr., D-Hudson, said money alone does not explain why a district is successful or how the money is spent.

Sen. Gerald Cardinale R-Bergen, asked for a complete breakdown of the 305 districts, which Davy said the department will provide with updated 2006 data as soon as it can. She noted that Dupree is pretty much a one-man department, and is being asked to generate a lot of data.

Dupree said the DOE has tried to compensate for the wide range of spending among districts, and in the understatement of the day noted “costs do differ around the state.”

Doria said legislators still have to grapple with how much state aid will be given and how it will be distributed among the districts. That resonated with Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, who represents middle-class suburban districts which have been caught in middle of flat state funding and are feeling the pinch of property-tax hikes.

“(Legislators) are going to have to start dealing with (taxpayer) ability to pay,” she said. She also is concerned that a base funding amount might provide just a minimal education.

“Just passing state tests is not talking about excellence,” she said.

After the hearing Conaway said it is possible state aid might have to increase. He admitted it was very unlikely that the 31 urban special needs Abbott districts would get less funding, but said he is also concerned about other districts that are underfunded and underperforming.

He said he continues to support even small measures to save money by sharing or consolidating services, but he didn't expect major cuts in school expenses right away.

“The only way to get immediate property-tax relief is to have the state pay more,” Conaway said. “There is the possibility for the government to deliver significant savings if we could come up with the money.”

To e-mail Diane D'Amico at The Press:

DDamico@pressofac.com

 

 

Legislators struggle to find remedies for school funding

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

BY DUNSTAN McNICHOL

Star-Ledger Staff

Experts who studied the cost of schooling in New Jersey for four years delivered a dose of sticker shock yesterday to lawmakers trying to come up with a new state aid formula to ease property taxes.

They said even with the $7 billion the state currently gives out each year, and another $11 billion raised through local property taxes, more must be spent to cover the cost of providing a basic education.

"That's one of the rubs we have," said Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), co-chairman of a special committee charged with proposing a new school funding formula by Nov. 15. "The only way to get increased property tax relief is to spend more."

The exact dimensions of the problem lawmakers face were still unclear yesterday, after a 90-minute presentation on school costs from the Department of Education and John Augenblick, a Denver consultant who was paid $130,000 to help determine what a decent education in New Jersey should cost.

Augenblick's formula was applied to the 600-plus school districts in New Jersey and concluded the total tab for providing an ade quate education to the school children in New Jersey should be $15.3 billion -- or about $8,000 per stu dent.

That compares with the $14.9 billion taxpayers actually spent on their schools in 2004-2005, a number that does not include costs for transportation, pre-school, retirement benefits and other costs.

"This is all reflecting what people in New Jersey think is necessary," said Augenblick, who testi fied before the Joint Legislative Committee on School Funding Reform by videoconference from Denver yesterday.

But even that overall shortfall does not tell the full tale.

A Star-Ledger analysis of the figures Augenblick produced showed New Jersey's 128 wealthiest communities, labeled "I & J" in the state's funding system, are overspending the base budgets by almost $200 million.

Meanwhile, hundreds of middle- income districts fell more than $500 million short of raising the amount needed to pay for the teachers and materials local education experts determined are needed for an ade quate education, the analysis showed.

How much of that shortfall will be filled, and what mixture of state and local funds will be used to fill it, are the questions lawmakers still must answer as they try to develop a new school aid distribution for mula.

"It's one of the big policy questions we have to face," said Conaway. "How do you manage the districts that are both underspending and underachieving?"

The goal, they say, is to devise a formula that will deliver state aid to the school districts educating students who need extra resources, regardless of where they live.

The Augenblick formula at tempts to define one element of that need by determining how much each school district in the state needs to educate its enrolled students, based on how many of its students are needy, how many re quire special services and a variety of other factors.

Yesterday's presentation was the first time state officials had publicly discussed the school cost report, which was produced in 2003. The report's conclusions, up dated with statistics from the 2004-05 school year, were released last week after an advocacy group successfully sued the state to make them public.

State officials said it will take them another week or two to deliver lawmakers an updated version of the cost study, using enrollment and expenses from the 2005-06 school year.

Once that information is in hand, Conaway said, lawmakers can begin to analyze what lies behind the total spending to determine how much of that tab should be covered with state revenues, versus how much should be raised locally through property taxes in each community.

Republicans on the committee questioned whether the level of spending Augenblick's process determined to be "adequate" was reasonable, particularly since the necessary services were selected by professional educators and lobby ists.

"It strikes me there is a great deal of elective material that can or cannot be included in that budget," said Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen).

Dunstan McNichol covers state government issues. He may be reached at (609) 989-0341 or dmcnichol@starledger.com.

Poll: Most back mergers - if tax cut is huge

By BILL DUHART
Courier-Post Staff

 

A majority of state residents say they are willing to merge municipalities and school districts to cut local property taxes, a new poll shows.

They say they might even accept higher state income taxes.

But there's a catch: they want to see huge cuts in property taxes -- 50 percent.

The new poll by Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey newspapers shows residents are willing to support dramatic changes in government and taxation.

For example, 7 in 10 respondents would support the combining of municipalities or the creation of countywide school districts to cut property taxes in half.

But if the savings is just 25 percent, support drops to about 6 in 10. Cut the savings to 10 percent, and fewer than 4 in 10 would support such mergers.

"If it could lower my property taxes, of course I'd be happier," said Cornelia Amber Fleming, 79, a retired business owner from Delanco. "I wouldn't mind an increase in income taxes because my income is stagnant now. If it reduces my property taxes, I'm all for it."

Robert Withers, 62, of West Deptford, an industrial machinery technician, said he would be in favor in increasing income taxes on the rich but didn't think it would happen.

"You have too many rich politicians and their constituents for the average guy like me to have a say," he said.

Withers said he was in favor of merging local authorities and municipalities to save money.

Majorie Viola, 63, a retired educator from Barrington, said consolidation works. But she's not in favor of a countywide education official calling the shots in local schools. She likes the idea of wealthier people paying more for local services.

"The income tax can shift the burden of higher property taxes from seniors to the general public," she said.

"People need relief right away," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. "To get serious support to really push this through, you need to cut property taxes by half."

Property taxes have long been the top issue for state voters, polls have shown, and the Legislature is looking for ways to relieve them.

But few proposals have amassed strong political support.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he wants to limit property tax increases to 3 percent a year and perhaps give municipalities the power to levy other local taxes.

State legislators have discussed everything from mandatory consolidation of governments to increased sales and income taxes.

Michael P. Riccards, executive director of the Hall Institute, a Trenton-based state policy think tank, said the problem is residents want large property tax cuts, but really don't understand the draconian measures needed to attain them.

"You're talking about huge numbers," Riccards said. "The notion of consolidating school districts, that you'd save a lot of money, that wasn't the experience in Maryland where they did that. It would take much more than consolidation. . . . There's a large disconnect, there's an unrealistic expectation there."

In other questions in the Monmouth/Gannett poll, 47 percent said they would support hiking income taxes on those making $50,000 a year or more if that would yield a 50 percent cut in property taxes.

Yet 76 percent said this plan would need to also include cost-savings measures in order to work.

Nearly half also said they would support the creation of an independent commission that would come up with a list of municipalities to be merged. Nearly 70 percent said they would be willing to support that commission if residents could vote to approve or reject the suggestions.

"Residents do say that they want more efficiency and greater accountability in how their property tax dollars are spent," Murray said. "They appear willing to give up some local control in order to achieve this. The devil, of course, is in the details."

The poll of 800 adults was conducted from Oct. 16 through 19. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Monmouth University Polling Institute conducted the poll. Gannett New Jersey Newspapers include the Courier-Post, the Asbury Park Press, the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick, the Courier News of Bridgewater, the Daily Record of Parsippany, the Daily Journal of Vineland and the Ocean County Observer of Dover Township.

Jason Method of Gannett New Jersey contributed to this report. Reach Bill Duhart at (856) 486-2576 or bduhart@courierpostonline.com
[liPublished]: October 25. 2006 3:10AM


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