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ABBOTT DISTRICTS ASK COURT TO REJECT GOVERNOR'S BUDGET DOCUMENT SEVERE EFFECTS ON NEEDIEST STUDENTS

Twenty-three high poverty, high minority urban school districts are seeking to intervene before the Supreme Court to oppose Governor Jon Corzine’s proposed budget cuts in their schools. The intervening communities are Millville, Irvington, Camden, Vineland, Newark, Orange, Asbury Park, Bridgeton, Burlington, East Orange, Elizabeth, Gloucester, Harrison, Keansburg, Passaic, Paterson, Pemberton, Perth Amboy, Plainfield, Pleasantville, Salem, Phillipsburg, and Trenton.

In their court filing, the districts show that the Governor’s "flat funding" proposal will result in a substantial reduction in funding for the 2006-7 year. This reduction will, in turn: (1) require the districts to make severe and drastic cuts in programs, services and positions that will prevent these communities from implementing the Abbott mandates; (2) threaten the documented progress the these communities have made under the Abbott decisions; and (3) prevent the districts from seeking supplemental funding for demonstrably needed programs and services for the State’s most disadvantaged students that is required under the 1998 Abbott funding mandate.

Among the cuts in programs, services and positions documented by the districts in their filings are:

  • Funds for 20 new schools opening next year
  • Tenured teaching positions, impacting class size and school security
  • Literacy and math coaches for students performing below grade level
  • Bilingual instructional aides, teachers, and classes
  • Special education programs mandated by state and federal law
  • Before- and after-school tutoring and homework assistance programs
  • Gifted and talented staff and programs
  • Extracurricular and summer activities
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Drop-out prevention, truancy and gang and violence prevention programs
  • Social workers and family liaisons
  • Maintenance, custodial supplies and equipment, school supplies and equipment, and purchased services and textbooks
  • Initiatives such as restructuring middle schools, implementing the secondary reform measures mandated by the DOE, and implementing the priorities in the 2-year report

"The districts’ submissions document, in detail, the drastic effect that the Governor’s budget proposal would have on the progress of reform in the State’s poorest urban communities," stated Abbott counsel, David Sciarra. "At this juncture, it is critical that the Court act to safeguard these essential programs and services, and therefore insure that these students enjoy access to a constitutionally adequate education."