Monroe likely to get more school aid but amount unknown, says state Department of Education

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Jul 9, 2018

Monroe Township School District and many others throughout the state are in line to receive additional state funding in the recently approved Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget, coupled with legislative changes recently approved.

However, the exact amount is an unknown at this point, the state Department of Education said on Friday because the new aid figures are still being calculated.

“We don’t have a specific date when the state-aid figures will be available,” Michael Yaple, Department of Education spokesman, said on Friday. “The DOE is working hard to provide guidance and revised state-aid numbers to districts as soon as possible. We’re processing the recently enacted budget, and it’s important that the information given to school districts is accurate and provided in a timely manner.”

Various reports, however, analyzing how much more school districts would receive from the new state budget and changes to school funding suggest that Monroe’s allotment would rise by $2 million, on top of the $344,000 increase. If those reports are correct, for the 2018-2019 school budget Monroe’s state aid would total $5.6 million – a significant hike from last year’s $3.1 million.

Monroe education leaders and community members have been lobbying state lawmakersas part of a statewide effort to adjust how much money suburban and rural districts received. It’s a fight that has been happening for years. But this time around, lawmakers agreed to adjust the funding allotments, reducing some aid to overfunded districts in favor of those that believe they do not receive their fair share.

“We want people to come and stay in New Jersey,” Michael Kozak said during an April rally in Trenton for more education funding while he was still the district superintendent. The school board did not renew his contract, which expired on June 30. “We’re trying to tell the students and families this is the place to be, but they are being taxed out of their homes, they’re being taxed out of their residences. So we are asking, please we need to address this issue now and we cannot wait any longer.”

Though the state has not announced updated state aid figures, Monroe Township Mayor Gerald Tamburro sent a letter to residents last week saying the school district would receive an additional $2 million in state aid and thanking them for their efforts to get the extra monies. The letter also addressed additional funds that are available in the state budget for the Homestead Rebate property tax program.

After not initially responding to a request seeking clarification about the information source of the $2 million figure cited in the mayor’s letter, on Monday night the township said it received word from state representatives and the state Office of Legislative Services about the aid amount.

The school board president has yet to respond for comment.

“I am proud to have fought for this alongside the township council, school district administrators, board of education and most importantly, the parents and advocates who championed our cause for so long,” he wrote. “While we still have a way to go to ensure we get the full amount of funding that our students deserve, this is a promising and pivotal step in the right direction.”