The Education Law Center, responding to the Special Master ruling last month that the Christie Administration improperly funded schools, asked the N.J. Supreme Court today to adopt those findings, require the state to provide school aid at the levels required by the SFRA formula in the 2011-12 school year and for the two years thereafter, and conduct the required three-year review of the SFRA in 2014.
The Special Master found that, as a result of the state’s $1.601 billion underfunding of the SFRA formula, school districts made significant reductions in core teachers, academic supports, and other programs, staff and services essential for providing the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS), ELC stated in a release. These cuts fell heavily on high-need districts and at-risk students.
The plaintiffs argue that the court should adopt the findings that districts with low, medium and high concentrations of at-risk students cannot provide a thorough education as a result.
In addition, the plaintiffs argue that fiscal problems of the state cannot excuse it from meeting the mandate for full funding of the SFRA formula.
ELC argues further that there is no basis for the state’s claim that federal funds should be permitted to “make up” for the state’s own $1.601 billion cut in school aid from the level required by the SFRA formula.
The plaintiffs contend that the court should enter a remedial order to ensure full funding of the SFRA.
“Nonetheless, Plaintiffs accept that the remedy should take into account practical realities,” their filing states. “That is, since the 2010-11 school year is nearly complete, meaningful relief cannot be ordered for the constitutional violation in the current school year.”
They seek an immediate order from the court directing the state to implement the SFRA formula “by providing full funding for 2011-12 and two years thereafter and by conducting in 2014 the statutorily-required three year review of the SFRA’s effectiveness.”
The court had given the parties in the cases until today to file their responses to the Special Master’s findings. The parties will also have time to respond to each other’s latest filings.