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DRAMATIC RISE IN NUMBER OF NJ SCHOOLS LACKING ESSENTIAL RESOURCES

May 8, 2014

New Jersey has experienced a 72% increase over five years in the number of school districts “below adequacy,” the benchmark for the essential resources needed to deliver the State’s academic standards, including the new Common Core language arts and mathematics standards, to all students.

According to an analysis by Dr. Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director, 183 districts were below adequacy in 2010-11. For 2014-15, 315 districts will be below adequacy. The analysis compares each district’s projected adequacy budget for 2014-15 to its actual state and local spending in 2013-14, not including transportation.

ELC is now able to analyze projected district resources in 2014-15, based on the State’s weighted student formula – the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), since the NJ Department of Education (DOE) issued corrected state aid notices under the SFRA on May 1. The DOE sent these notices to districts to comply with ELC’s legal action before the State Supreme Court.

Dr. Farrie also found the bulk of the $1 billion shortfall projected for 2014-15 in SFRA school aid is in the 315 below adequacy districts. These districts account for 85% – or $858 million – of the shortfall.

 The key findings of the ELC analysis include:

  • The number of below adequacy districts has skyrocketed in the past four years. In 2010-11, 183 of the state’s 594 districts were spending below their adequacy budget. In 2014-15, that number will jump to 315 – a 72% increase.
  • Districts across the socioeconomic spectrum are faring worse that they were five years ago, with more districts falling below adequacy in all District Factor Groups, except in the highest wealth J districts, which saw no change.
  • Between 2009-10 and 2014-15, the number of below adequacy districts will increase from 55 to 84 in low wealth communities, from 102 to 170 in middle wealth communities, and from 23 to 32 in high wealth communities.
  • Low wealth districts are more likely to be below adequacy than high wealth districts. In total, 79% of low wealth districts will be below adequacy in 2014-15, compared to 54% of middle wealth districts, and 25% of high wealth districts.

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“Our analysis shows alarming trends in resource deficits in below adequacy districts, many of which are high poverty districts with growing student need,” said Dr. Farrie. “This trend is eroding NJ’s national standing as a state with fair and equitable school funding.”

“This is not about dollars, but about the quality of educational opportunities for students in classrooms across the state,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “Increasing numbers of districts are struggling without the essentials, including the teachers, support staff and programs necessary to deliver the State's academic standards to all students, especially at-risk students, students in high need schools, and English language learners.”

 

Related Stories:

STATE FORMALLY NOTIFIES NJ SCHOOL DISTRICTS OF SUBSTANTIAL UNDERFUNDING

LEGISATURE MUST REJECT GOVERNOR CHRISTIE’S PROPOSED FY15 SCHOOL AID BUDGET

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24