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ELC PRESSES FOR SCHOOL AID INCREASE

DEMANDS GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY

In testimony before the Assembly Budget Committee, ELC is urging legislators to reject Governor Jon Corzine’s proposed school aid freeze and, instead, to increase school funding for all school districts. ELC also continues to push for greater State accountability, and presented several concrete proposals designed to modernize the New Jersey Department of Education.

David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director and Abbott Counsel, presented the testimony and engaged in a lengthy dialogue with Committee Chair Louis Greenwald and other Committee members about the need for a "student-centered" FY07 State Budget. The ELC recommendations discussed by the Committee include:

  • Providing a minimum state aid increase for all school districts to maintain quality in our high performing districts, assist other poor districts, and sustain the strong progress underway in our high poverty, high minority Abbott districts
  • Phase-in urgently needed parity funding for rural districts and urban charter schools
  • Dramatically step-up State accountability for the effective and efficient use of all school funds, particularly funds for urban school reforms, by:
    • Directing the Commissioner of Education to prepare an annual Abbott Accountability Plan, with benchmarks to assess the State’s performance in leading urban school reform
    • Building a student level database, starting in the Abbott districts
    • Stabilizing State rules governing urban school reform by ending the Commissioner’s practice of changing these rules every year
    • Immediately launching the Court ordered evaluation of the Abbott reforms

"It’s high time the Legislature got serious about accountability, instead of complaining whenever reports of spending abuses or inadequate educational progress surface," said David Sciarra. "These basic accountability measures must be included in the State Budget, starting with a complete overhaul of the State Education Department. Our students and taxpayers deserve a Department that is mission and data-driven, ready to help struggling districts and schools, but also ready to take swift, decisive action to end abusive, ineffective and inefficient practices."