By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — The state government announced last week that it was allocating extra money to all schools in the state. Some are seeing minor increases in aid, and others, including Long Branch, are receiving millions more.
On July 12, Governor Chris Christie announced that he was allocating an extra $600 million in aid to schools around the state. Following a court ruling in May, Abbott Districts — which the state says are entitled to extra support, and which includes the Long Branch school district — will receive a total of $450 million more than originally anticipated.
Long Branch will receive a little more than $4.3 million extra in aid for the 2011-12 school year.
Non-Abbott schools will receive $150 million more.
This money is in addition to the $250 million aid increase that had already been allocated by Christie before the court decision. Much of that restored the aid which had been eliminated in the 2010 budget.
“This year, New Jersey increased state aid to school districts by $850 million over last year, restoring every dollar of the cuts we were forced to make last year and increasing aid by an additional $30 million. We are keeping faith with our commitment to New Jersey’s children and families, spending more money per pupil on New Jersey’s students than almost any other state in the country,” said Governor Christie in a statement.
The governor also called for reform in education.
Long Branch Schools Superintendent Michael Salvatore said that the funds — and the idea of changing how education is conducted — were welcome in Long Branch.
“Governor Christie’s education allocation plan will fully fund the school funding formula for the former Abbott districts, which has been a challenge since the inception of the (School Finance Reform Act). We are waiting for guidance from the Department of Education, on the specific resources and initiatives that will be proposed under the governor’s education reform agenda,” he said.
“Additionally, It was great to learn acting commission [of education Chris] Cerf has called for targeted standards based instruction and assessments, which has been a worthy movement in the education arena nationwide. “
Salvatore has made it a priority to increase standards during his term as Superintendent.
“In Long Branch we have embraced the movement and will utilize any additional funding for standards based digital learning and assessment platforms such as read180 and study island, which are diagnostic tools used in the classroom to adequately monitor student outcomes,” said Salvatore.
Long Branch school officials said they would work with the state and closely monitor how the funding is used.
Other communities are receiving more modest increases in aid. Oceanport received about $31,000 more than originally budgeted for, which board members have voted to use to reduce the taxpayer burden. (Long Branch schools had no tax increase this year.)
Even though the Oceanport Board of Education had a meeting scheduled for Wednesday night, they needed another one earlier in the week to approve this, to comply with the county’s schedule of sending out tax bills.