Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jersey Jazzman: NJ Charter Schools - A Fool's Gold Rush: Vineland

Jersey Jazzman: NJ Charter Schools - A Fool's Gold Rush: Vineland:

NJ Charter Schools - A Fool's Gold Rush: Vineland

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Here are all the parts of this series so far:

Prelude

Franklin, NJ

Princeton, NJ

Vineland, NJ

Here in New Jersey, the state's school funding formula has become a topic of intense debate. Now that Chris Christie has abandoned his "Fairness Formula" -- a ridiculously unfair and inefficient proposal -- attention has turned to Senate President Steve Sweeney's school funding proposal:


HAMMONTON — Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Friday he wants revisions to the school-funding formula in place for the 2017-18 school year.
“Every year, the gap gets greater,” he said during a visit to the Hammonton School District to discuss school funding. “Every year there is flat funding we are losing ground.”
[...]
Sweeney said he recognizes some districts would lose funding under a revised plan, but those districts have known for years they are getting more state aid than they should, and they should have been making plans. [emphasis mine]
Sweeney's plan is to create a commission to recommend changes to the state's funding formula, SFRA. I don't necessarily have a problem with asking some districts with relatively high property values to pay more in local taxes, but the devil's in the details, and those details are scarce. I'll save a larger discussion of school funding for another day; right now, I want to focus on this:

Helen Haley, the business administrator for the Vineland School District, said they would lose money under the proposed revisions, and it would be devastating for the district, which is among the poorest in the state.
“We have cut 57 positions through attrition,” she said. “We are a large rural area, so transportation costs are high. Our special-education population is growing. But we have trouble raising taxes because of economic conditions.”
Sweeney said special education is an area that must be addressed, and the district could get additional aid there to make up for losses in other aid.
According to data from the Education Law Center, Vineland's local fair share of taxes is relatively low. Whether the town should pay more is an open question, particularly because, as Jeff Bennett notes, many districts paying low school taxes actually have high municipal taxes. Is Vineland in that group? I can't say at this time...

But I do know this: Vineland, like all other New Jersey school districts, should be seeking to 
Jersey Jazzman: NJ Charter Schools - A Fool's Gold Rush: Vineland:



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