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    Senate Committee on School Funding Fairness; Hearings begin at Kingsway

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    January 13, 2017

     

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    Sweeney Announces Formation of Special Committee on School Funding

     

    Names Membership of Bipartisan Panel That Will Hold Public Hearings Throughout the State, Starting This Month

     

    TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney today announced the formation of the special bipartisan committee to examine the state’s school funding system and the first scheduled public hearing by the eight-member Select Committee on School Funding Fairness.

     

    Chaired by Senator Sweeney and co-chaired by Republican Senator Joseph Pennacchio, the committee will also include Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, who also serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Sandra Cunningham, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Senator Paul Sarlo, chair of the Budget Committee, Senator Steven Oroho, Senator Michael Doherty and Senator Samuel Thompson.

     

    The first hearing will be held at the Kingsway Regional High School in Woolwich at 11:00 a.m. on January 27th. Additional hearings will be held throughout the state, Senator Sweeney said.

    “The flaws in the school aid system have caused a growing crisis in state funding that is leaving a large number of school districts without the funds they need and should be receiving,” said Senator Sweeney. “This lopsided funding process forces these communities and their local taxpayers to pay more to make up the difference. The bottom line is that these communities are subsidizing other districts that are receiving more than their fair share of the school funding formula.”

     

    The school funding law of 2008 was altered to include provisions that have prevented districts with increased student enrollment from receiving fair compensation at the same time other school systems are over compensated with so-called “hold harmless” aid that gives them money for students they don’t have.

     

    The two add-ons were intended to be temporary but continue to be funded eight years later, exacerbating a disparity that leaves some districts with as little as 40 percent funding while others get 140 percent or more of the formula aid.

     

    The creation of the Select Committee was authorized by a unanimous vote of the Senate on Tuesday.

     

    The hearings will help generate more input from educators, local officials, residents, advocacy groups and others on the problems caused by the school aid funding formula and the best way to make needed reforms before the problems become worse, Senator Sweeney said.

      

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