Sauickie and Clifton demand DOE explain multimillion-dollar school funding cuts to district

Sauickie and Clifton demand DOE explain multimillion-dollar school funding cuts to district

Assemblyman Alex Sauickie

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblymen Alex Sauickie and Rob Clifton are demanding answers and school-funding reform after the Education Department released state aid numbers Thursday that showed Jackson and Old Bridge school districts losing nearly $7 million next year.

“I need one of you to explain to me how this administration and the Department of Education can say they have fully funded the education formula when these numbers show another overall decrease to the school districts in Legislative District 12,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) responded in an email to the education department’s acting commissioner Kevin Dehmer and his staff.   

The assemblymen’s legislative district includes 16 school districts. Five of the 16 districts are either being cut or held flat and overall funding is down almost $1.2 million compared to last year. Jackson Township’s aid will be reduced by $4.5 million and Old Bridge will lose $2.5 million.

“Jackson Township’s cut is on top of the $18 million in cuts that the district has endured over the past six years, resulting in more than 200 positions being eliminated, 30 students per class, and ending programs and sports. Even more, that school district, as a result of these previous cuts, for the first time in its history, had to borrow more than $10 million from the state,” Sauickie said. “It’s hard to fathom what your justification could be to cut this district’s funding even further.”

Assemblyman Rob Clifton

The school funding measure enacted in 2018 promised a fairer distribution of public school aid, but hundreds of school districts have suffered year-after-year cuts as a result of the law. Despite repeated requests from local government officials and advocacy groups for specifics on how the formula is used to determine aid, they haven’t been shared.

“Our schools and most importantly, our students, deserve a more predictable and equitable funding formula. It is impossible for a school district to prepare for the type of devastating cuts this administration has delivered. This failed formula is hurting our kids, because they are losing teachers, programs, extracurricular activities, sports and educational opportunities afforded to other children that disproportionately benefit,” Clifton (R-Monmouth) said.

Funding for Jackson Township schools is down 16% year-over-year, despite increasing private school transportation cost obligations and a growing number of students speaking English as a second language. It is the fourth-largest cut in the state by dollar amount. There are 140 school districts across the state losing funding.

“For the administration to brag about historic education funding while our schools face even more cuts just adds insult to injury and underscores the importance of structural school funding reform. This administration held a press conference at a district getting $30 million more in funding while acting like the other 140 districts don’t exist. It is unacceptable,” Sauickie and Clifton said. “We’ll continue to be our districts’ voice in Trenton and fight for fully funded schools for all New Jersey’s children.”