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HUGE WIN FOR ABBOTT SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS!

SETTLEMENTS YIELD $500 MILLION IN SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDS

The Abbott districts have reached settlements with the NJ Department of Education over the districts’ 2004-05 budgets, approving over $500 million in Abbott funding for K-12 supplemental programs in the coming school year. The budget agreements avoid a repeat of the extended legal battle waged by NJDOE last year, which caused delays in providing many needed programs, and canceled others altogether.

The settlements also avoided having the NJ Supreme Court rule on the legality of regulations "secretly" adopted in May by Education Commissioner William Librera. Two weeks ago, a group of Abbott districts and Education Law Center asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the May rules before they expire on June 30th. The Court was set to hear oral argument on June 24th when the last districts settled their budgets and the Court dismissed the legal challenge.

"Our aggressive court action produced a huge win for Abbott schools and students," said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. "Supplemental programs – full day kindergarten, tutors, health and social services – are critical for urban students and schools to reach high standards. Districts are now positioned to continue and expand these essential programs and services," he added.

An ELC analysis shows that the settlements resulted in an increase of $170 million in Abbott supplemental funding over the $335 million the NJDOE initially approved on May 28th, bringing the total to over $500 million. When added to Demonstrably Effective Program Aid (DEPA), the districts will receive $627 million in state aid for Abbott K-12 supplemental programs.

The Abbott rulings require the State to annually fund K-12 foundation education, preschool and K-12 supplemental programs. For 2004-05, Abbott districts will receive:

  • an increase of $200 million to maintain parity in foundation education at $11,412 per pupil, or the amount spent in successful suburban districts
  • over $400 million to provide full day preschool programs for 40,000 three and four year old children
  • an increase of $150 million of K-12 supplemental programs, for a total of $627 million for K-12 supplemental programs