State to turn over data on how several shore-area schools are funded
A joint lawsuit filed by several shore-area school districts will soon shed more light on how the state determines how much money schools receive.
The court decided that the state Department of Education will have to turn over all data on how the schools are funded.
“We expect this will help school districts verify or not the amount of state aid they are receiving – have that kind of check and balance that we always thought they should have had,” says Stephen Edelstein, an attorney with the Weiner Law Group.
Edelstein represents the school districts of Toms River, Jackson, Brick, Freehold Regional and others in the fight to reveal the funding formula of Senate Bill S2, which went into effect back in 2018.
Recently, districts have seen a massive cut in state funding – prompting rallies on the steps of the State House and an elementary school to close in Brick. Freehold Regional will see cuts totaling $30 million by 2026.
The districts wanted to see the formula determining state aid. A judge ruled that formula will now be released to the districts, which can now check and see if the system was fair.
“We are talking about how public money is allocated back to the community in which New Jerseyans live, so it's an issue of general importance,” says Edelstein.
Brick Township Mayor John Ducey also weighed in on the ruling, in a statement:
“I was elated to hear that the courts agreed with us that the state should be mandated to provide the data and formula they use to fund the school districts in NJ. It is so important for there to be open government, and this forces the state to be open as well. I always found it interesting that the state would pass OPRA laws and then exempt themselves from having to comply with the laws. With this decision everyone can see where the money is going for the children of our state and why. Right now, it’s a guessing game and seems arbitrary and capricious. Now we can see if there was a rhyme or reason to the funding or if there really was a formula at all.”
Edelstein expects the state to once again appeal the judge's ruling.