Lenape Region State Aid FAQs
What is happening?
The State of New Jersey has adopted a plan to reduce state funding to seven of the nine Lenape Region schools cumulatively of approximately $23 million over the seven-year life of Senate Bill S-2, of which we are entering the third year (Evesham, Medford, Shamong, Southampton, Tabernacle, Woodland and the Lenape Regional High School District) while continuing to chronically underfund all nine districts. In essence, S-2 reflects the state’s belief they already fund the Lenape Region more than they should by using a calculation called “Local Fair Share” – an arbitrary calculation that we continue to challenge. As it is now, the state only provides a small percentage of funding sources compared to the percentage our taxpayers provide. State funding currently is set at 18 percent of the total educational and operational costs. When S-2 becomes fully implemented the percent of all educational and operational costs provided by the state will be reduced from 18 percent to 11 percent.
S-2 will generate annual budget deficits that will require significant cuts to the programs and services that have garnered all the schools of the Lenape Region the distinction of being some of the most efficiently-operating model programs in New Jersey.
Why is there a funding crisis?
New Jersey’s current school funding formula dates back to 2008. It considers property wealth and enrollment, plus other calculations the New Jersey Department of Education has not fully revealed. In 2018, S-2 reinterpreted the formula to redistribute funds. About two-thirds of districts benefited, at the expense of the rest.
Where are we today?
This year (2019-20), the seven districts in the Lenape Region lost $2.62 million; next year (2020-21) we will lose over $4.2 million and over $5.2 million the following year. If this unfortunate timeline of cuts is fully realized, the damage will indeed be irreparable. Even the unenviable action of raising taxes will never be able to close that gap.
To provide a bit of context, the nebulous multipliers in the formula, which have been changing with no explanation from the State, disproportionately shifted the State’s burden to pay for education to the taxpayers. If the same multipliers were used in 2019-20 as were used in the 2009-10 school year, the LRHSD would see an increase in State Aid by $5.3 million. Instead, the new multipliers resulted in a 61% decrease in Equalization Aid to LRHSD.
What are we doing to advocate for our students?
The Lenape Regional High District has joined an alliance of school districts, municipalities and tax payers to actively oppose the devastating financial impact caused by the reduction of state aid resulting from S-2.
In addition, we have joined the Support Our Students Advocacy Group - a statewide coalition currently representing all 1.4 million New Jersey public school students and 97 school districts. The mission statement of Support Our Students is as follows:
The Support Our Students (SOS) coalition of school districts throughout the state being negatively impacted by the reduction in state adjustment aid shall advocate with our legislators, and convey our message to the public to ensure that ALL 1.4 million students in New Jersey receive the quality education that they deserve and are entitled to in accordance with the state’s mandate for a thorough and efficient education. This effort shall include supporting increased state aid for those districts who have been underfunded.
Our effort shall be sustained and inclusive of all stakeholders focusing on outcomes that result in educational services and programming being maintained for our school communities while seeking fiscally responsible solutions.