Sunday Leftovers

Big question for fiscally functional school districts: is the State going to seize our carefully nurtured surplus funds? Senate President Steve Sweeney tells Today’s Sunbeam “no,” but Gov. Christie is “examining the proposal.”

Woodbridge Public Schools has to slash $5-10 million from its budget, and a logical first step, according to some community members (and several other school districts struggling with current budget mayhem), may be privatizing cafeteria workers. But the current Board members were elected through support of the local union and are loathe to antagonize members, prompting Superintendent John Crowe to remark, "I simply cannot look at this and say we are going to remove Gifted and Talented arts, family programs, administrators, certified staff while we then say support services have to stay."

The Times of Trenton
looks at some local Mercer County districts who are also struggling to construct budgets: "At the center of officials' concerns are three main questions: Will state aid be cut, will the state's tax levy cap change and will schools be forced to use excess surplus to make up for aid gaps?

The Record examines school funding in the Essex County district of Montclair, which was the site of a forum underwritten by the NJ League of Municipalities. Montclair administrators say the School Funding Formula rewards large poor urban districts at the expense of suburban communities.

Joining escalating attacks on the School Funding Formula is the editorial board of My Central Jersey, which says that Corzine had the right idea but didn’t go far enough because the system still awards aid unevenly.
While the Corzine formula was an improvement, it was deeply flawed because the administration was too anxious to keep too many districts at least somewhat happy as Corzine kept an eye on re-election possibilities. Spread the money as widely as possible, give everyone at least something, and the potential is there for more votes
More and more high schools in NJ (and elsewhere) receive “need improvement” status because of the failing test scores of children with disabilities. The Daily Record looks at seven schools in Morris County who fail into that category, and the difficulties inherent in evaluating academic achievement for kids who are held to the same bar regardless of special needs.

Diane D'amico of the Press of Atlantic City counters charter school advocates by arguing that plenty of charters fail: "Christie and Schundler have an obligation to parents and taxpayers to make sure any alternative they propose is based on more than political rhetoric."