N.J. schools split $5.2M in new school aid under proposed budget

By Samantha Marcus, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

TRENTON — New Jersey’s roughly 600 school districts would share just $5.2 million in new school aid dollars next year under Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed state budget, with the vast majority getting no increase at all, according to state aid figures released today. No school districts are slated to lose funding.

That means many schools will be squeezed for cash because costs are going up and they are banned by state law from raising their budgets more than 2 percent, said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association.

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The proposed budget revives Christie’s plan for a school voucher system, allocating $2 million to finance a pilot program. Democrats have blocked Christie on this front in prior years.

“Hopefully the Legislature will see that this $2 million will provide children in struggling districts some real educational opportunities they don’t have now,” Hespe said.

The Education Law Center panned the proposal.

“Diverting scarce public funds to private and religious schools has been consistently rejected by the Legislature as wrong for our state and children,” David Sciarra, the executive director said. “We’re confident the governor’s latest gambit is dead on arrival.”

Christie proposed cutting charter school aid by $2 million, nonpublic school aid by $3.6 million and school building aid by $4.2 million. Fewer nonpublic schools are converting to charter schools, Hespe said.

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