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NJ Spotlight Founder: There’s No Clarity On School Funding Formula

4-1-14

The School Funding Reform Act formula has been a battle in New Jersey courts, but NJ Spotlight Founding Editor John Mooney told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that there is anything but clarity on the funding formula.

“What Gov. Christie has proposed for next year, after slowly increasing funding over the last few years to get at least some districts back to where they were in 2010, most are not,” said Mooney. “But this year, really facing a lot of pressure from the pension payments and he’s barely increasing, I think it comes to about $20 a kid. That’s all, single percentage point increase over last year, not enough to offset any of the cost increases schools face.”

When schools have less money, Mooney says that taxpayers have to make up some of the differences, but that there are some limits.

Changes are being made in the way school curriculum and teacher evaluations are made and Mooney calls it the perfect storm for schools.

“I mean there’s a lot of changes happening in terms of the needs of kids,” Mooney said. “There’s new testing that’s coming on which is going to be virtually all online, which is going to require some technology pieces that lots of schools have, but lots of schools don’t.”

Recently a court decision determined that parents and schools could be held accountable for bullying. Mooney says that it is an interesting case and that there has been a lot of talk among lawyers about the issue.

Meanwhile in Newark, there has been a battle over whether to restore local control or to remain under state control. Because many in Newark don’t agree on who should be in control of the city’s school district, Mooney said that issues in the city’s school system will not get resolved. He also says that the possibility of several teachers getting laid off is causing tension with unions and advocates.

“It’s an interesting fight. We have a new commissioner on board starting the last couple of weeks, David Hespe, who’s going to have a slightly different take on it but he was appointed by Christie so I don’t think he’s going to reverse course,” said Mooney. “But it’s interesting. The local argument is yes you say local control can work, but the fact of the matter is the state has been in control for the last 20 years. I’m not sure state control has worked all that well either.”