Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It is a myth that SFRA was ever fully funded

One of the most frustrating myths in NJ education aid is that SFRA was ever fully funded.  It hasn't been.  Not even in 2008-09.

I've seen this notion passed around numerous times, with the latest occurrence being this article about charter funding from Meir Rinde of NJSpotlight.

"Public schools are funded by a combination of local taxes and, for some, state aid. Technically, aid allocations are determined by the formula in the 2008 School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), though that formula was only fully funded in its first year."

This is not correct.

In 2008-09 districts received their "CAPPED AID," and capped aid is not "full funding."  Capped aid is an arbitrary amount of money that is a 10% or 20% increase in what an underaided district got in 2007-08, depending on the district being above or below Adequacy.  Real SFRA full funding is UNCAPPED AID.

Then as now, hundreds of districts were underaided in 2008-09, although at that point it briefly looked like they were on a path to getting their full, uncapped aid in a few years.

To give a few examples from selected underaided districts from 2009-10 (the only archived year with uncapped aid)

1. in 2009-10, Bayonne got $53,434,464, but its uncapped aid was $83,780,024.
2. In 2009-10, Bloomfield got $21,242,545, but its uncapped aid was $36,407,507.
3. In 2009-10, Clifton got $27,843,819, but its uncapped aid was $60,670,291.
4.  In 2009-10 Delran got $11,941,238 , but it s uncapped aid was $19,428,707.
5.  In 2009-10 Freehold Boro got $9,223,870 but its uncapped aid was $13,378,008.
6.  In 2009-10 Bound Brook got $7,533,856 but its uncapped aid was $15,036,071.
7.  In 2009-10 Chesterfield only got $380,242 but its uncapped aid was $2,118,869.

I realize that I am giving aid data for the year after 2008-09, but the uncapped aid amounts wouldn't have been so different in the year before.

Going back to 1975, NJ has almost never fully funded its aid law.

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