Woodbury, New Jersey – May 1, 2015. Woodbury City Public Schools, a leader in personalizing education, in conjunction with the City Council of Woodbury, will be hosting an informational meeting on Thursday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Junior-Senior High School auditorium (25 North Broad Street, Woodbury) on the topic of the unfair distribution and underfunding of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) state aid dollars.
Superintendents, business administrators, school board presidents, city mayors, freeholders, assemblymen, and senators from 13 school districts in Gloucester County and 20 school districts from Camden County, covering five legislative districts, have been invited to come together to discuss New Jersey’s failure to equitably fund the SFRA formula to school districts and to advocate for change.
SFRA, when enacted, promised a new, better way of distributing state aid to public school districts using an “equitable and predictable’ weighted student formula.
At the time, former Governor John Corzine indicated, “We can now make sure all of our children, regardless of where they live, have the opportunity of getting the quality education they should expect.”
However, New Jersey has failed to uphold this law and has repeatedly underfunded the formula. For Woodbury City Public Schools, this has been a longstanding concern. The district will be severely underfunded in FY16 by over $5 million dollars if Governor Christie’s State Budget passes. More importantly, the issue for school districts like Woodbury City is that districts receive a disproportionate percentage of the SFRA formula. The school districts invited to this meeting were identified as those receiving less than the state-wide average of 85.3% of the uncapped SFRA formula funding for FY16. Woodbury City Public Schools is scheduled to receive only 70.4% of its uncapped SFRA funding in FY16 while other school districts are receiving a much higher percentage of SFRA funding than the state’s overall average contribution, and many receive over 100% of their uncapped calculation.
“The meeting on May 7 is the beginning of a concerted effort to have school and local government representatives come together to discuss and better understand this pressing issue and to present a unified, larger voice to state officials controlling educational aid,” Woodbury City Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Jones III explains. “Given that the state claims there is not enough money to fully fund the SFRA act, districts should receive state dollars in accordance to the proportion of funding available. Therefore, the theme of our message will be that the state needs to fund SFRA in a consistent, proportional basis across all school districts or ‘Please Underfund All of Us Equally.’”
The greatest concern relates to those school districts impacted by SFRA underfunding with high percentages of at-risk students and English language learners, often in communities with considerable poverty and limited resources. It is exactly these districts that the SFRA formula was designed to help. While schools make every effort to do more with less and ensure that students receive an excellent education, each year these districts have been forced to cut essential staff, programs, and services, much of which would benefit the neediest students. Due to the severe underfunding by the state, many of these schools are not able to develop budgets that meet the state defined “adequacy” level of funding. As a result, the current situation jeopardizes the ability to provide students with a thorough and efficient education.
For more information on the May 7 meeting, or how SFRA is impacting Woodbury City Public Schools, please contact Superintendent Joseph Jones at 856-853-0123 ext. 230 or Business Administrator Kara Huber at 856-853-0123 ext. 219.
Any press attending the meeting is asked to enter the school through the glass doors in the rear of the building across from the Cap Paine gymnasium.
Woodbury City Public School District, located in Woodbury, New Jersey, is a “Leader in Personalized Education.” Our comprehensive curriculum, numerous Advanced Placement courses, AVID and Option II programs, outstanding athletic teams, and visual and performing arts department offer students from elementary school to high school with the opportunity for individual successes in and out of the classroom. Visit us at www.woodburysch.com.