Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How Overaided Districts Would GAIN Money if SFRA is Not Changed


Recently Senator Jennifer Beck has been disseminating misleading, incomplete
Jennifer Beck is Confused About What
She Wants
information about state aid in order to slow the redistribution of Adjustment Aid.

Part of her campaign in defense of Adjustment Aid is pointing out that 157 districts that now get Adjustment Aid should not lose state aid because SFRA says they actually should get MORE state money than what they get now!

She has now twice said something to this effect.

Example 1:
It’s not clear, that redistributing Adjustment Aid is going to be as uncomplicated as some have suggested .... 157 of those districts are also underfunded relative to what SFRA says they should get in state aid,” the senator added.
Example 2:

Sen. Jennifer Beck, a Republican member of the committee, cautioned against unintended consequences with the removal of adjustment aid. She said 157 of 181 districts receiving the aid remain underfunded by the state, and abruptly taking away funding would hurt those communities. The place to start, she said, would be to redistribute the roughly $11 million from 46 districts that are overfunded by the state.

Yes, how can a district getting Adjustment Aid "remain underfunded"?

When Beck refers to Adjustment Aid districts getting _less_ than SFRA says they "should get," she is indeed statutorily correct, but she is conflating what Adjustment Aid says a district should get legally with what it actually needs.

Verification of Beck's legal claim be easily seen in the Alternative Aid Scenarios that the Department of Education produces to show how much aid districts would get if SFRA were followed, with Adjustment Aid and the State Aid Growth Limits preserved. A quick glance at even Asbury Park will reveal that is is getting $2,056175 less than SFRA says it should get (!!!!)

Giving Asbury Park more money? How can SFRA do this?

This is a consequence of the fact that SFRA does not let any district receive less than 102% of what it got in 2007-08 and the fact that in 2010 and 2013 Adjustment Aid was cut. SFRA is blind to what a district's contemporary economic needs are; unless it has a large post-2008 enrollment loss, it can never receive less than 102% of its 2007-08 funding.

The first violation of the 102% promise was in 2010, when Chris Christie cut every district's aid by an amount equivalent to 5% of its budget. These cuts affected underaided districts and overaided districts alike, but the overaided districts lost some of their Adjustment Aid while the underaided districts lost Equalization Aid, Special Education Aid etc. (Christie's cuts were later reversed for the Abbotts.)

The second violation of the 102% guarantee was in 2013 when Christie, as part of a now-obscure fair-minded phase, actually did cut $40 million in Adjustment Aid from Adjustment Aid districts who were over Adequacy.

The 2010 cuts:
EG

The 2013 cuts were allowed to occur for all affected districts, including Abbotts.

EG

Any budget that passes the legislature is automatically legal, but these cuts were contrary to SFRA's stipulation that no district receive less than 102% of what it got in 2007-08.

Even though these districts are all overaided according to what SFRA's core formulas say they should receive, SFRA still contains the 102% provision and thereby it has a zombie-like determination to reverse the cuts of 2010 and 2013.

For instance, Asbury Park's aid is $25 million higher than its SFRA target (ie, Uncapped Aid), but according to SFRA, Asbury Park is owed another $2 million.

  • This is because Asbury Park's peak aid was $57.7 million in 2008-09 and the Adjustment Aid mechanism of SFRA wants to bounce it back up to that amount.
  • Pemberton's aid is also $25 million higher than its SFRA target, but SFRA wants to give it another $1 million. 
  • Keansburg is overaided by $7 million against its real real need, but is underaided by $500,000 against Capped Aid. 
  • Brick is overaided by $23 million, but would get another $2.2 million under SFRA. 
  • Marlboro is overaided by $5.3 million, but would gain another $800,000. 
Most NJ districts are slightly underfunded against Capped Aid and significantly underfunded against Uncapped Aid, but for 157 Adjustment Aid districts, they are underfunded against Capped Aid, but overfunded against Uncapped Aid.

If SFRA were followed as it is currently written, 157 of New Jersey's overaided districts would actually gain a total of $84 million!! Asbury Park's gain would actually be larger than Red Bank Boro's in per student terms. Toms River would gain $3.4 million, even though it is already overaided by $21 million.

Particularly ridiculous is that Allenhurst, who has $5.1 million in Local Fair Share for only three students, gain another $10,612 in state aid.

There are another 46 districts who are now slightly underaided, but whose aid in 2008-09 was greater than what SFRA calculates they actually need.  Since the 102% promise in Adjustment Aid applies to these districts as well, their Capped Aid is higher than their Uncapped Aid.  For Passaic, Capped Aid is $20 million higher than Uncapped Aid; for Perth Amboy it's $11.6 million.  For Montclair, the Morris School District, and Princeton, Capped Aid is about $1 million each higher than Uncapped Aid.

If these 46 districts got their Capped Aid they would become overaided by $43 million.

Projected Gains Per StudentUnder the Adjustment Aid/State Aid Growth
Limit Status Quo of SFRA
See: http://bit.ly/2pGkPTq and http://www.nj.gov/education/stateaid/1718/scenarios.shtml


If Asbury Park and Pemberton are brought back to their peak aid levels, as Adjustment Aid dictates, the amount of aid available for truly underaided districts, including Red Bank Boro and Freehold Boro in Jennifer Beck's own district, is reduced by $84 million.  If the 46 slightly underaided districts are brought back to their peak aid levels the amount of money to give to districts like Red Bank Boro and Freehold Boro is reduced by $43 million.

Jennifer Beck is UNDERMINING the cause of fairness by making any references to the 102% promise within SFRA.

We cannot cut Adjustment Aid and keep the 102% guarantee. Since Beck purports to be an ally of Freehold and Red Bank Boros, Beck's self-contradiction here is off-the-charts.

The solution to perverse consequences of SFRA that would pour more money into overaided districts is to eliminate Adjustment Aid.

Beck, who in the past I liked, doesn't know what she wants, other than that she likes to get photo opportunities with Freehold and Red Bank Boros.

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