New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: We Don’t Need a Commission to Fix Unfair School Funding Formula

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Senator Joe Pennacchio (R- Passaic, Essex, Morris) issued the following statement about New Jersey’s School funding formula:

Sen. Joe Pennacchio called on the legislature to fix the state’s unfair school funding formula.

“Since entering the legislature in 2001, my and many of my colleagues’ overriding issue has been a fair distribution of the state’s portion of school funding. My children in my district are worth no less than any other child in New Jersey. I understand and accept that circumstances dictate additional aid for some school districts, mostly in our urban areas. I accept that. What I do not accept is a political education formula that is dictated more by a zip code and what legislative district a child lives in. This has allowed 22-percent of the state’s students in 31 districts to receive 60-percent of the state’s funds while the remaining 544 districts fight for scraps. It’s not fair and not acceptable.

“What is also not acceptable is a legislature which refuses to deal directly with the problem and instead puts up a politically specious resolution calling for a commission to study the problem. For years, some of us have told you what the glaring problems are.

  • An expansion of school services to include pre-K services where millionaires can send their children to pre-K programs subsidized by the state.
  • A gaming of the PILOT and abatement programs which are not reflected in the school aid formula.
  • An abused breakfast program dependent on the Department of Agriculture to oversee eligibility, which is only able to audit, at best, 4-percent of the cases.
  • The state formula is based on a census taken in October, and yet, when 10-percent of children are chronically absent, schools still receive a full school-year’s worth of funding.
  • Disproportionate levels of spending in places like Asbury Park spend $33,000 per pupil while the state average is less than $18,000.
  • A formula which does not see or treat our most-vulnerable children with special education needs as equals. Rather, it shamefully segregates them once again by zip code.
  • A graduation rate in those highly funded districts that any person of reason could see as unacceptable.

“I cannot in good conscience stand by another minute while this legislature abdicates its responsibility under the guise of a commission. This legislature does not need a commission on school funding. It needs the political and, more importantly, moral courage to right this wrong. My children, all our children, deserve better.”

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