TRENTON— Members of the statewide Support Our Schools (SOS) coalition will visit state legislators at their local offices during the week of June 3-7, for an SOS Call to Action. The organization represents a range of constituents – parents, teachers, township committee members, principals and superintendents – advocating for a truly fair school funding formula.
According to Michael Harris, Southampton Township School District superintendent and one of the founding members of SOS, this week’s legislative visits are among the coordinated steps the 75 member school districts are undertaking to change the school funding formula to benefit all New Jersey public schools and students.
Representatives from SOS school districts will be visiting the following legislative districts this week:
- District 1
- District 2
- District 4
- District 5
- District 7
- District 8
- District 9
- District 10
- District 11
- District 12
- District 13
- District 23
- District 24
Today, leaders from Toms River Regional Schools met with representatives from legislative districts 9 and 10. Superintendent David Healy, Business Administrator William Doering, Board Vice President Russell Corby, and TREA President Scottt Campbell visited Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblywoman DiAnne Grove, and Assemblyman Brian Rumpf at the District 9 offices in Forked River, where they were joined by leaders from Stafford Township Schools. Then, the TRRS team visited Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblyman David Wolfe in Brick, where they were joined by Superintendent of Brick Schools Gerard Dalton.
“Thousands of students, parents, educators and community members who will be severely impacted by the proposed funding formula have rallied on Trenton twice,” said Toms River Superintendent of Schools, David Healy. “Now we’re taking what we believe is a reasonable message to fairly fund every school, directly to our local legislators. We’re aiming to put faces to our cause and share our stories.”
In addition to delivering the attached letter to their legislators, the SOS districts participating in the visits will urge their legislators to take action on the following:
- Continue to increase funding to underfunded districts;
- Increase state allocation for educational funding overall;
- Provide immediate fiscal assistance to school districts where state aid has been reduced and educational programming is being negatively impacted as a result;
- Increase special education extraordinary aid during the current budget cycle;
- Begin funding special education based on a per pupil basis, as opposed to a statewide census basis;
- Formulate a bi-partisan, joint committee of the legislature to review and update the funding formula (SFRA) including, but not limited to, the following elements: what constitutes adequacy, consistent calculation of local fair share; and,
- Extend the timeline from the current 7 years to 12 years for reducing state aid to districts.
SOS applauds the steps the New Jersey state legislature and Governor Murphy’s administration have taken over the past two years to increase funding to underfunded school districts. However, the reduction in state aid to approximately 175 school districts without a review and update of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) will have a catastrophic effect on educational programming in many districts. In order to truly restore fairness and support to all public school districts and the students and communities they serve steps must be taken by the legislature.
“SOS has spearheaded a monumental, groundbreaking effort in terms of uniting New Jersey’s public school districts from every corner of the state,” said Harris. “We are seeking a fair, sustainable path forward, and we pledge not to pit student against student, district against district or community against community.
“Today’s SOS Call to Action for Legislators is driving our messages home, and it is a request for real action for full, fair funding that treats every student as a precious resource worthy of our best effort and investment,” said Harris.