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ELC SEEKS ACCOUNTING FOR ABBOTT MANAGEMENT FUNDS

Education Law Center has asked NJ Commissioner of Education William Librera to publicly account for the $14 million in Abbott funds spent by the Department of Education last year to manage and supervise implementation of the Abbott rulings. ELC is also seeking a detailed plan on how the DOE will manage Abbott implementation with the $14.6 million the agency will receive for 2004-05.

In both the FYO4 and FY05 state budgets, the Legislature transferred Abbott funds to the DOE operating budget "for the purpose of managing and supervising implementation of the Abbott remedies." The FY04 transfer came from the appropriation of "Abbott parity remedy aid" and exceeded $14 million. In the FY05 budget, the DOE will receive $14.6 million in "Education Opportunity Aid" for its Abbott management functions, plus any unexpended balance from last year. EOA is the new line item in the budget that combines state aid to comply with the Abbott parity remedy for K-12 foundation funding and for Abbott K-12 supplemental programs.

ELC has asked for any accounting or audit that explains how the DOE spent these funds last year, and for a detailed spending plan -- including goals, objectives and benchmarks – for how DOE will use the $14.6 million transfer to manage Abbott in the coming school year.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly mandated that all Abbott funds be used "effectively and efficiently." A full and detailed accounting of the Abbott management funds is necessary to ensure DOE complies with this mandate, and to further public confidence in the State’s Abbott implementation efforts.

"All Abbott funds must be effectively and efficiently used," said ELC Executive Director David Sciarra, "including those transferred to DOE for Abbott management purposes. Accountability for performance starts with the DOE."