Department of CYA

Apparently Gov. Christie didn’t really mean on Monday that NJ residents should vote down local school budgets. At a Senate budget hearing yesterday, Ed. Comm. Bret Schundler clarified the Governor’s remarks:
Schundler said he thought the governor meant he understood how voters were going to feel. He said no when asked directly whether he thought voters should reject budgets without wage freezes.

"I think what the governor was trying to say was he understands how voters are going to feel if they're looking at the possibility of a property tax increase of 5 percent and they're being asked to, if you will, sacrifice to avoid layoffs," Schundler said. "It's not that they should feel that way, but I think a lot of them are going to feel that way. I think that's what the governor was trying to get at."
Whew. That’s a relief.

Schundler also explained why school districts were caught off guard after expecting a maximum loss of 15% of state aid, and instead were socked with cuts of 5% of total budgets, telling the Star-Ledger that he “lacked a good line of communication with individual districts.” More likely, it was a sudden change of strategy by the NJ DOE. The originally proposed cut – that 15% of state aid -- would slash too deeply at poor urban districts, some of whom rely on the State for over 90% of total school costs. That kind of axing would almost certainly provoke immediate legal action from the Education Law Center, which is momentarily biding its time until the School Funding Reform Act comes up for review. The 5% total aid cut took suburban districts by surprise, but saved the skins of Districts-Formerly-Known-As-Abbotts.

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