By Matthew McGrath, Staff Writer. The Record.

NEWARK — Barbara Buono, the Democratic nominee for governor, pledged during a campaign event Wednesday to better fund public schools, blaze a path for state-managed districts to return to local control and develop plans for universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten.

MICHAEL KARAS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Barbara Buono addressing a public advocacy group Wednesday at the Education Law Center in Newark.
Buono, a state senator from Edison, was invited to the Education Law Center in Newark for a round-table discussion about her education policies with Our Children/Our Schools, a public advocacy group.

Buono said she would increase funding for public school classrooms and continue to ensure that state dollars follow student needs regardless of where they live and attend school.

The Christie administration, she said, has kept funding for school districts at 2010 levels, and she wants that to increase. Buono previously said that the governor has “woefully underfunded” the state’s schools, but the Christie campaign has pointed out that the governor’s budget included an increase to school districts of $7.8 billion.

Buono said she doesn’t oppose charter schools but that they should be used to examine alternatives in education that could be integrated into the public school system.

“Charters were never meant to replace public schools,” Buono said. “People are trying to use simplistic solutions to complex problems, and charter schools are not the answer.”

She wants to usher in universal pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten and after-school programs throughout the state. “We need to understand that education can’t be seen as an expense, it needs to be seen as an investment,” Buono said.

Buono offered few specifics but said she opposes school voucher programs and virtual charter schools.

She said higher taxes for corporations and the very wealthy could generate revenue to help fully fund education aid and other state programs.


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