Late at night on July 3, Governor Christie signed off on his last budget in office. After intense negotiation with legislative leadership, a $34.7 billion budget went into effect for fiscal year 2017-2018.
At JerseyCAN, we have continued to advocate for policies and programs that ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed. This year’s budget has several key wins for students that are worth highlighting, and we are extraordinarily grateful to the legislative leadership who worked around the clock to get this budget deal done.
This year’s budget includes:
- Over $9 billion in direct State aid to districts.
- Preschool expansion aid. This year’s budget has $25 million to expand early childhood education, the first increase in pre-K money since Christie has taken office.
- An additional $25 million for special education costs.
- New funding for districts underfunded by the State. This includes $100 million in new aid and $31 million in redistributed aid from districts that have lost enrollment and/or districts that are not raising enough dollars on the local level.
- Host District Support Aid for districts with growing charter sectors. This $27.7 million funding category is intended to help stabilize the budgets of urban school districts with growing charter sectors, benefitting both district schools and charter schools.
Beyond these budget items, the State Board of Education also voted to adopt policy changes for charter schools. These changes, which JerseyCAN has advocated for, will help ensure charter schools serve the most at-risk students while also increasing accountability.
The new rule changes include:
- Allowance of weighted lotteries/enrollment systems for charters so they can give extra “weight” to the most at-risk students in their communities and increase the likelihood of admission for those students.
- Allowance of single-purpose charter schools such as schools devoted to serving educationally disadvantaged students.
- Expedited renewals for high-performing charters.
- Helpful changes around facilities that will allow charters to use State and local funds for rehabilitation or expansion.
- Accountability measures such as requiring charters to post meeting notices and minutes on their websites as well as the publishing of annual reports on charter school performance.
These education policies are areas we believe will help address educational inequities in New Jersey. The JerseyCAN team is extremely proud of the collective work we and many other partners have done in supporting high-quality school options, optimizing school-funding and expanding pre-K access.
We want to thank you for your continued support and collaboration, and we look forward to working together in the future to build upon these strong policy wins for kids!