Story: Ben Wolverton
TRENTON, NJ -
The fight for fair school funding continues in our area as Chesterfield Elementary remains the lowest funded school district in the Garden State.
According to the Burlington County Times, Chesterfield will receive $419,893, the smallest total sum in the state, or around $530 per student for the 180 school days.
In his recent budget address, Governor Christie said when he became Governor, he was forced to cut school aid by millions, But 7 years later, he says he has increased school funding by billions.
"We reduced school aid by $475M, the amount all state school districts had in their surplus accounts," he said in his televised speech. "Those indeed, were dark, dark days."
Christie went on to criticize "liberal editorial pages" for saying that we are not better off than that time. "They would have you believe that today is no better, or in fact, even worse." In his accomplishments, Christie lists school aid: "...increased it by over $3.3B."
Despite those numbers, Chesterfield is funded just 11% of where it should be, based on household income and amount of students enrolled. Taxpayers in the township already feel the strain of taxes in payments of the now 5 year old elementary school, and are also making up that other 89% to keep the school running.
Another important person in the school funding fight is New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney. Sweeney joined members of Chesterfield Board of Education at a roundtable back in July of 2016 at Chesterfield Elementary School. He spoke about a Governor Corzine plan that was only supposed to be in place for 2 years.
"It's 8 years later, and because of what's been left in place, it's just getting worse - progressively getting worse every year, and what we're trying to do is get to a point where... we create a balanced field where everyone's a winner," Sweeney told a panel of school board members and other school officials last summer.
In reference to Governor Christie’s speech where he said school funding was increased by $3.3B, Chesterfield Township Committeewoman Andrea Katz told WBNC News in an email Sunday, “Chesterfield has seen a small increase. We receive $85,512 in Supplemental Growth Aid which is a category of aid that was created for high growth districts like Chesterfield... while we appreciate any increase in funding, [it] isn't exactly proportional to our growth.”
Want to get involved?
There is a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Public Hearing in Trenton on Tuesday, March 14th at 11am, and the first meeting of Chesterfield Township’s new School Funding Strategy Committee will be that night, March 14th at 7pm at Chesterfield Elementary School. Those interested in joining can email email@example.com.
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