Sunday Leftovers

Senate President Steve Sweeney has an idea to cover N.J.’s $40 billion pension liability: have the federal government float us a $50 billion Federal Reserve loan that could be paid back over 30 years at 1 percent or 2 percent interest. NJEA likes it. Also see the Asbury Park Press. Meanwhile, trustees of the three retirement funds are trying a new tack in state court.

New Jersey Education Aid, the new school finance blog (think of it as SchoolFinance102) says the “number everyone cares about” regarding state fiscal matters is 4.58% because that was the return on N.J.’s pension fund last year. That’s well below last year’s numbers and the projected rate of return. He writes,
Whatever the final amount is, the result for the state's school aid distribution is the same: without higher investment returns the state's pension liability is even higher and we cannot afford to fully SFRA...
The scale of the Pension Crisis is so large that the exact time of the funds going broke is immaterial from the POV of state aid. The result is the same: New Jersey can never afford to fully fund SFRA [the School Funding Reform Act] and even the $8.6 billion Pre-K+K-12 aid stream is unsustainable.  Those of us from underaided, overtaxed districts cannot wait: we need redistribution now!
In addition to the state's inability to fund SFRA or preschool, it also isn't kicking in enough for special education. John Mooney recounts that the state is supposed to pay "extraordinary aid," intended to help districts cope with the cost of students whose educational services cost more than $40,000 per year. "Earlier this month, the state Department of Education alerted districts applying for the extra aid that it would pay 58 percent of the eligible costs. The funding level is a drop from 63 percent last year, and marks a significant drop from even the aftermath of the state’s fiscal crisis in 2012, when the state paid 77 percent."

NJ Spotlight: "The state Senate has passed a bill, S-165, that creates a new credential that recognizes K-12 teachers who take a leadership role without leaving the classroom and becoming an administrator or supervisor."

The Star-Ledger tells you "how to be part of N.J.'s Common Core review."

NJ Spotlight reports that 19 schools were removed from the State D.O.E.'s list of "focus schools," those not as bad as "priority schools" but still not up to snuff.

The Record reports that the Millburn Board of Ed "is examining if Millburn High School students' high scores in advanced placement, or AP, exams, are coming at too high a cost."

Bergen County Community College is cutting 64 full-time lecturer positions to save money. Full-time lecturers (five courses a semester) earn $19,400 a year plus benefits and have to leave after four years.

EdWeek reports that "teachers hired during recession periods appeared to be somewhat more effective boosting students' math scores than those teachers hired in more secure times, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Why? Because during recessions, districts got an influx of better-quality applicants for jobs."