By Barbara Keshishian, NJEA president
This is a devastating day for children and public education in New Jersey. On the heels of more than $1.3 billion in cuts to public education, the Legislature and the governor have put an ill-conceived and shortsighted policy in place that will prevent our public schools from ever climbing out of the hole that has been dug for them by the state.
This two percent cap has no basis in reality. It is lower than the historic rate of inflation, which means that in terms of real dollars, local school funding will decrease each year.
It contains no exception for many rising costs faced by districts, including the cost of special education. There is no exception for rising energy costs, which can be very volatile. There is no exception for shortfalls in state aid, as districts are experiencing this year. As costs outside of districts’ control continue to increase, funding will not follow. Services will decline even as local property taxes continue to increase.
In September, parents and students will begin to see the consequences of this governor’s slash-and-burn approach to school funding. Class sizes will be larger, courses will be eliminated and programs will disappear.
The cap bill passed today ensures that this year’s devastation is just beginning. From this point forward, every new school year will bring deeper and more harmful cuts. Our children will pay the price for the shortsighted decision that our elected leaders have made.
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