Doherty: School lunch abuse report underscores need to reform funding formula

TRENTON – Sen. Michael Doherty (R-23) said that the Comptroller’s findings of widespread school lunch program abuse reinforces the need to reform what he long has maintained is a flawed school funding formula.

“Since the initial reports of fraud in Elizabeth were released two years ago, I have repeatedly called for a larger scale investigation to uncover the extent of school lunch program fraud in New Jersey,” said Doherty in a release Wednesday. “It seemed likely that the abuses found in Elizabeth were occurring all over the place, which the Comptroller’s new report confirms.”

The state’s school funding formula triggers an ‘At Risk’ designation for students enrolled in the free and reduced price lunch program, resulting in the delivery of an additional $5,000 of state education aid to a school district for each student enrolled, Doherty said.

“I have said for a long time that fraud in the free school lunch program costs taxpayers much more than just the cost of free lunches, just as the Comptroller noted in his report,” added Doherty.

“With a limited pot of state education funding, the extra aid delivered to districts with fraudulent enrollments in the school lunch program results in districts that follow the rules getting less than their fair share of state aid, causing their property taxes to rise.”

Doherty is the sponsor of a proposal that would replace the current formula with one that would provide every child in the state with an equal share of state education aid, regardless of where they live.

Doherty: School lunch abuse report underscores need to reform funding formula