School aid figures for fiscal year 2017 were released by the Christie Administration February 19. The proposed budget allocates $13.3 billion toward public education ($548 million over last fiscal year). Of the total funding, $9.1 billion is for direct aid to be distributed across New Jersey school districts, an increase of more than $94.3 million from fiscal 2016 levels.
The Governor also announced as part of his budget address that the NJ Department of Education is running the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) formula this year with modification that will be outlined in a soon to be released Education Adequacy Report.
What is known is that the proposed increase equates to an additional 1.0 percent increase in state school aid. In addition, the proposed budget includes:
- an additional $4 million toward Security Aid;
- a $6 million increase in Transportation Aid
Other pockets of aid include:
- Professional Learning Community Aid – A new category of aid, called Professional Learning Community Aid (PLCA), will provide $10 per student for every district. The nearly $13.5 million for this new aid category is designed to support the development of “learning communities” within and across districts, in order to help teachers and administrators analyze and use the assessment data they collect to improve classroom instruction.
- Host District Support Aid – Host District Support Aid is also a new aid category that would provide an additional $25.9 million to support school districts that send students to charter schools. Of the $25.9 million, $20 million will go to Newark
- Special Education Funding – Total funding for special education will increase by $11 million. That includes an increase of $5 million in Extraordinary Special Education Aid. In addition, Special Education Categorical Aid will increase by $6.3 million over fiscal 2016 levels.
Unfortunately preschool funding remains flat under the proposed budget.