TRENTON – State school aid increased by $850 million over last year’s budget, and Middlesex County school districts will get $92 million more than last year according to figures released this week by the Christie administration.
“This year, New Jersey increased state aid to Middlesex County by $92 million, and to school districts across the state by $850 million over last year, restoring every dollar of the cuts we were forced to make last year and adding additional aid. We are keeping faith with our commitment to New Jersey’s children and families, spending more money per pupil on New Jersey’s students than almost any other state in the country,” said Gov. Chris Christie. “Now is the time to complement the dollars spent with real education reform to bring a focus on student learning, accountability and results.”
Some districts have not seen their state aid awards return to the levels they had received prior to Christie taking office. For example, Metuchen received $1.7 million for the 2009-10 school year and saw a 90 percent cut to just $176,037 last year. The governor’s budget this year allocates $790,037, an increase of $614,900 but nearly $1 million less than the district received for 2009-10.
Under the Democrat-sponsored budget proposal passed by the Legislature, most school districts would have gotten a bigger aid increase. Metuchen would have received $1.6 million. Christie vetoed the Democrats’ higher school funding figures, saying that New Jersey taxpayers could not afford them. He also vetoed a tax increase for residents making $1 million or more per year that would have been used, in part, to fund increased education aid.
Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf reaffirmed the governor’s call to focus not just on education dollars, but how they are spent. “It is now time to focus on aggressive education reform, concentrating on improving standards, assessments, and curriculum; strengthening the use of performance and accountability data; improving educator effectiveness; and investing in innovative models of educational delivery,” Cerf said.
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