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LOSS OF ABBOTT AID WOULD DEVASTATE URBAN SCHOOLS

LEGISLATORS PROPOSE DRAMATIC CUTS IN SCHOOL FUNDING FOR POOR CHILDREN

Newark, New Jersey -- June 27, 2006

Some legislators are proposing to remove all Abbott funding from public schools in 12 urban communities, totaling $434 million in state aid. The school funding cuts have been proposed as a way to balance the FY2007 State Budget and provide additional property tax relief.

Under the proposal, all Abbott aid would be cut from the following communities:

  • Bergen County -- Garfield
  • Burlington County-- Burlington City and Pemberton Township
  • Camden County – Gloucester City
  • Cumberland County – Millville and Vineland
  • Hudson County – Harrison, Hoboken and Jersey City
  • Monmouth County – Long Branch and Neptune Township
  • Warren County – Phillipsburg

These communities would suffer the following funding cuts:

  • Core Curriculum: $232 million in foundation aid for curriculum and instruction in language arts, math, science, the arts and other core subjects
  • Preschool: $38.3 million, or 41% of current preschool budgets
  • Full-Day K, Small Classes, Tutoring, etc.: $163.5 million or 85% of the funds available for "supplemental" programs to help poor students meet State standards

School children in Gloucester City would lose the most, with a cut of 50% of the total education budget. Phillipsburg would lose 48% of its budget; 42% in Millville; 41% in Pemberton; and 40% in Jersey City. Hoboken, which gets no K-12 Abbott aid, would lose the least: $2.4 million or half of its preschool funds.

The proposal also abruptly ends "parity" between suburban and urban students in funding for the State’s Core Curriculum, a key remedy to reverse decades of urban school neglect. Urban students would have their foundation funding reduced from the current level of $11,706 to $8,716 per pupil, or $3,000 per pupil less than their suburban peers.

Over 76,000 K-12 students are enrolled in these Abbott districts, along with almost 10,000 youngsters in preschool. 64% of these children are poor, and 62% are Latino and African-American.

"Abbott funds are used for preschool for three- and four-year olds, smaller classes, better curriculum and teaching, tutoring, social and health services, and other programs. These funding cuts, if enacted, would devastate public education in these communities," said ELC Executive Director David Sciarra

"It would also roll back historic gains in educating thousands of poor and minority children, and bring back New Jersey’s shameful period of education inequality."

"We call on all legislators to help us make the Abbott districts models for reform, free from undue political influence, and fully accountable to the public for spending wisely and making sound education decisions. A good place to start is joining our call for an overhaul of the State Education Department to ensure greater State accountability to urban school children," Mr. Sciarra added.

Education Law Center Press Contact:
David G. Sciarra
Executive Director
email: dsciarra@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x16