State Aid Up $1 for Madison Schools?

Lower debt service aid actually means a net loss in state funding over previous year, Board of Education president says.

New Jersey needs solutions "that make every dollar we invest count," Gov. Chris Christie said in a news release Thursday announcing school state aid figures.

"Every dollar" had new meaning for Madison, which was among around 40 districts that would receive just $1 more from the previous year under the plan.

However the state wound up with one more dollar for certain districts, Madison Board of Education President Lisa Ellis said it felt like a slap in the face.

Ellis said Madison's proposed state aid for debt service is more than $23,000 less than the previous year, so the district's aid from the state actually would be down overall.

Meanwhile, the district is facing a steep increase in health insurance costs for employees, she said. The Board of Education's finance committee is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the district's budget. A special meeting to introduce the budget is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. What effect any federal budget cuts might have was not known.

Madison is proposed to receive $940,144 in state aid: $849,970 for special education, $52,188 for transportation and $37,986 for security.

State aid was approximately 3.8 percent of the revenue in last year's budget. Most of the operating budget, about 90 percent, was funded by $33.1 million collected through property taxes.

The breakdown of state aid for 2012-2013 was

  • Special Education Aid: $853,323
  • Transportation Aid: $50,676
  • Security Aid: $36,144

Prior to district-by-district figures being released, NJ Spotlight reported that "New Jersey officials said 378 districts would get at least some additional money" while around 200 districts would stay flat.

Ellis said state officials indicated to Madison it would be among New Jersey school systems receiving more state aid this year, only to see the extra dollar.

In Morris County, 25 districts stayed exactly flat. Nine districts saw increases ranging from $20,479 in Rockaway Borough to $1,109,869 for Morris Hills regional. And Madison, Florham Park, Mount Olive, Montville and Mendham Township got an extra buck.

South Bound Brook in Somerset County is poised to receive an extra $2 from the prior year.

Christie's proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Budget includes nearly $9 billion in state aid, an increase of $97.3 million over Fiscal Year 2013.

"Throughout my time in office I have continuously argued that in order to grow New Jersey's economy we must invest in education, and my proposed budget is a reflection of my commitment to our educational system and communities across the state," the governor said in a news release. "However, even as we continue to fund education at the highest levels in state history, we must remain willing to reflect on how we are spending our money and work towards solutions that make every dollar we invest count."

State aid allocations by district can be found here: http://www.nj.gov/education/stateaid/1314/


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