Senator Steven Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) applauded the approach to New Jersey public school funding released today as part of Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget.
Public school districts in Senator Oroho’s 24th legislative district are slated to receive the highest combined increase in state aid, 3.3 percent, with no district facing a decrease in aid.
“This is a welcomed improvement for our communities, thanks in large part to Gov. Christie listening to the call to alter a state funding formula bias against rural school districts,” Oroho said. “The governor’s proposed budget makes a significant investment in education which will benefit students as well as property taxpayers.”
Senator Oroho has aggressively advocated to change the state school funding formula’s nonsensical “geographic cost adjustment,” which if implemented deprives public schools in rural areas of the state their fairer share of state education aid. In late June, the full Senate passed a bill, S-1832, to modify the geographic cost provision, a measure which Senator Oroho created with Senator Jeff Van Drew on a bipartisan basis to educate people on the need for change.
“The geographic cost adjustment assumes that it costs less to operate school districts in rural areas of the state,” Oroho explained. “As a result, property taxpayers in my district have in past years shouldered an unfair property tax differential to pay for schools.”
Several examples of why the geographic cost adjustment is unfair to rural school districts include: Special education costs and out-of-district placement costs are not dissimilar for all counties; state health benefits must be accounted for; the costs of energy, textbooks, supplies and food service are the same or similar across counties; and transportation costs are exponentially more expensive than for suburban/urban school districts.
“Approximately 90 percent of school budgets are comprised of baseline expenses,” Oroho emphasized. “I applaud the governor for recognizing the unfairness of the geographic cost issue and changing it.”