Ciattarelli Answers Governor’s 100-Day Challenge on School Funding Reform

Ciattarelli Answers Governor’s

100-Day Challenge on School Funding Reform

GOP Assemblyman outlines specific plan and presses legislators in both parties

to stop playing politics and instead take action to solve biggest crisis facing NJ


TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli today accepted Gov. Chris Christie’s challenge to find a consensus on a new school funding formula in the next 100 days. Ciattarelli outlined his own specific plan to fix what he called a “blatantly unfair and terribly flawed” school funding formula

in a letter addressed Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick.

“Our school funding formula is unnecessarily complex. It’s time for something new,” said Ciattarelli. “The formula disadvantages children, taxpayers and educators in far too many middle class, blue collar school districts throughout the state, leaving some communities, for example, to sacrifice libraries for classroom space.”

While he believes in the “thorough and efficient” clause in the state constitution, Ciattarelli said the current distribution of state school aid violates the “equal benefit” clause, which is meant to protect against any community benefiting at the expense of another.

“When a $300,000 home in Delran, Egg Harbor Township, Lakewood, Manville, Freehold Borough, Red Bank and Woodbridge pays more in property taxes than an $800,000 home in Jersey City, something is wrong,” wrote Ciattarelli.  “Far too often, we hear that the answer to the school funding crisis is simply ‘fully fund the current formula.’  This is a flawed solution designed to protect the status quo and shirk responsibility. 

“We need a comprehensive and bold plan that reforms the current school funding formula and addresses our property tax crisis. A plan that is fair to all New Jerseyans. A plan worthy of bi-partisan support.”

In his letter (see attached), Ciattarelli offered the following plan and specific reforms:

  • Reduce excess aid in the most extremely overfunded school districts by 20 percent per year over five years, with the savings re-directed to the most severely underfunded school districts in places like Delran, Egg Harbor Township, Lakewood, Manville, Freehold Borough, Red Bank and Woodbridge and other middle- and working-class towns across the state

  • Redefine ‘local fair share’ so no community funds less than 25 percent of their school operating budget or construction costs through the local property tax levy, phased in over five years or 20 percent a year

  • Recognize that simply spending more money per student does not guarantee better educational outcomes. Change the state aid formula by reweighting cost-per-student spending targets (i.e., ‘adequacy’). This will better serve non-Abbott middle- and working-class towns and shore communities across the state by reallocating state aid to distribute today’s needs, not the 1980s

  • Prevent communities from abating school taxes on new development with 75 percent of negotiated payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (i.e. PILOTS) dedicated to the local school district

  • Ensure that state-funded pre-K is not unfairly limited to a small handful of districts by reforming the system to redirect state pre-K funds making means-tested pre-K available to all families at no additional cost to taxpayers

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