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STATE BUDGET PROVIDES ONLY HALF OF PARITY FUNDING

SUBURBAN SCHOOL SPENDING TO RISE 6%
ABBOTT FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN STILL UNFUNDED

Education Law Center’s analysis of the Governor’s proposed FY05 State Budget shows that suburban school districts are projected to increase spending by 6% in the upcoming 04-05 school year. Suburban per-pupil spending for "regular" or "foundation" K-12 education will rise from $10,708 per pupil in 03-04 to $11,412 next year. The State Budget, however, would provide only half of the $200 million in new state aid necessary to maintain parity in K-12 foundation spending between the suburban and Abbott districts, as required by the NJ Supreme Court’s Abbott rulings.

In addition, the second-half day of kindergarten in Abbott districts remains an unfunded mandate in the State Budget. No funding is provided for this Abbott-required supplemental program. Instead, only one-half day of kindergarten is funded, causing an estimated $120 million budget shortfall.

Some of ELC’s key findings are:

K-12 FOUNDATION FUNDING

  • Foundation education spending in wealthier suburban districts is projected to increase next year by $704 per pupil in 04-05, or from $10,708 to $11,412.
  • Rising costs have forced suburban districts to raise spending by more than 5% for a second straight year, to cover cost of living increases and make up for shortfalls in aid from the State.
  • $202 million in additional state aid is needed to maintain funding parity between suburban and Abbott districts, as required by the Abbott rulings.
  • The proposed State Budget provides approximately $100 million in additional state aid for Abbott districts, only half of the parity increase.

FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN

  • Full day kindergarten is a required supplemental program in the Abbott districts.
  • K-12 foundation funding, based on suburban spending, covers only the first-half day of kindergarten, and provides no funding for the Court-mandated second half-day of kindergarten.
  • 21,000 children were enrolled in full day kindergarten in Abbott districts in 2002-03.
  • The proposed State Budget provides no funding for the second half-day of kindergarten, resulting in an estimated shortfall of $120 million.

ELC is urging the Legislature to increase the appropriation in the FY05 Budget for Abbott districts by an additional $100 million to fully fund the K-12 foundation program, and $120 million to fund the second half-day of kindergarten.