Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2016-17 Budget: Big Increases for Pensions, Not Much Left Over for School Districts

This post was written very hastily to get information out as quickly as possible.

Christ Christie has giving his budget speech now. He has promised $94.3 million more for K-12 operating aid (which Christie rounded up to $100 million in his speech).

What's more important than the actually amount is how it will be distributed and this is a huge disappointment.


Of the $94.3 million, only $36.5 million is going into formula aid.  The budget document says it will go to the most "underfunded" districts, but the exact distribution is unknown as I write this.

  • $1.2 million will go into Interdistrict Choice.

  • $13.4 million will go into a new $10 per student aid stream called "Professional Learning Community Aid" which is supposedly to help districts analyze data.  

  • $25.9 million is for "Host District Support Aid" which goes to districts that have high transfers to charter schools.  

  • $32 million will go to "Commercial Valuation Stabilization Aid" which is mostly or all for Atlantic City.  

  • $5 million is going to Extraordinary Aid.

  • $9.1 million is going to Debt Service Aid.

This superficially looks fair, but it is not fair at all because many districts are underaided, often severely (Freehold Boro, Manchester Regional, Guttenberg etc), and the severely underaided districts have to share money with the 200+ districts that are overaided there will be less money available to them and they will remain severely underaided and thousands of dollars per student below Adequacy.

Although NJ will remain severely below the actuarial contribution for its pensions, so the additional $94.3 million is effectively a raid on the future, the bulk of the increase for education is going into TPAF and post-retirement medical. ($401.5 million).


The final distribution district-by-district is unknown, but it appears that Christie is again ignoring SFRA and common sense and treating Hoboken almost the same as he is treating Manchester Regional and Freehold Boro.

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