Jessica Calefati/The Star-Ledger By Jessica Calefati/The Star-Ledger 

Cerf Christie
Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, left, addresses the media during a press conference with Governor Chris Christie in this 2011 file photo. Cerf has called for a governor-appointed task force to study whether there is an alternative to count poor students than the free and reduced lunch program, as well as whether poverty is a disadvantage for students.
TRENTON — Tucked into an 80-page report on Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to overhaul distribution of state aid to public schools is a proposal that could have greater implications on school funding than anything else the governor has pitched, experts say.

In New Jersey and across the nation, the number of students living in poverty is determined by how many of them qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, a federal program run by the Department of Agriculture. But the count is not just about the federally subsidized meals — schools with poor students in the lunch program receive up to 57 percent more state aid than their peers.


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