Brick Schools Face Possible Drop In State Aid

Brick Township Board of Education. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – The school district could lose up to $25 million in state aid if a bill that modifies school funding is passed in the State Senate, said School Business Administrator James Edwards during the most recent Board of Education meeting.

The bill, S-2, proposed by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3rd) would phase out “adjustment aid” over a seven-year period and eliminate growth caps so districts with growing enrollment could receive more funding.

Some school districts across the state received adjustment aid when New Jersey adopted its current funding formula in 2008. State aid was supposed to be based on a formula that took into account each town’s property tax base, its ability to pay, changes in enrollment and the special needs of the children.

Adjustment aid was designed to shield certain districts from a sudden decline in state aid because of the change in the formula, and it was supposed to be phased out, but it never was. The districts who still receive the adjustment aid are considered to be overfunded and receiving more than their fair share of state aid, Sweeney had said.

Staff from each school presented certificates to a support staff person of the year and teacher of the year. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

If S-2 as it is proposed were adopted, Edwards said that the approximate amounts Brick Board of Education would lose in adjustment aid are: for school year 2018-2019, $1,274,844; for 2019-2020, $2,039,750; for 2020-2021, $2,549,687; for school year 2021-2022, $3,569,562; for 2022-2023, $4,589,437; for 2023-2024, $5,354,343; and for the final seventh school year 2024-2025, $6,119,249.

Sweeney said that after seven years schools would no longer receive adjustment aid except for vocational schools because they don’t have the ability to raise taxes since they are at the “whim of the county budgets.”

Sweeney also said that SDA (School Development Authority, formerly Abbott) districts who are losing money could raise their levy cap for the amount of money they are losing.

With the potential loss of $25 million, the burden would be shifted onto the taxpayers, Edwards said.

“Brick is already one of the lowest spending K-12 districts in the state and they are telling us we have to spend less,” Edwards said. “S-2 is a scary bill. This is really troublesome. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Pamela Cooper of Lake Riviera Middle School is named Teacher of the Year. Against the wall behind her (L to R) are Director of Curriculum and Instruction Susan McNamara, Board member Melita Gagliardi, Board member Victoria Pakala, Board member Jessica Clayton, and acting Superintendent of schools Denis Filippone. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

The Board members approved a resolution requesting revisions to the school funding formula. The resolution states that the district is being underfunded “pursuant to the 2008 School Funding Reform Act” while other districts are overfunded.

The resolution further states that facility capital improvement upgrades for the district are urgently needed, and by failing to correctly fund the district, it “may preclude the district from providing the students…a thorough and efficient education.”

Meanwhile, Governor Phil Murphy has proposed increases in state aid for the 2018-2019 school year budget that provides increases to nearly every school district.

If lawmakers do not agree on a balanced budget by June 30, Sweeney said there could be a government shutdown on July 1.

The next Board of Education meeting will be on Tuesday, June 26 at 7 p.m.