Upper schools see increase in state funding

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UPPER TOWNSHIP – The 2014 state budget presented by Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday will increase funding for school districts in Cape May County by $2.7 million, with a $147,840 increase for Upper Township’s school district.


State aid will increase from $9,509,484 this year to $9,657,324 in the 2013-14 school year, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Christie said it represents the largest appropriation of K-12 education dollars in the state’s history. The budget includes almost $9 billion in state aid, an increase of $97.3 million over this year.

“Throughout my time in office I have continuously argued that in order to grow New Jersey’s economy we must invest in education, and my proposed budget is a reflection of my commitment to our educational system and communities in Cape May County and across the state. The $2,784,260 increase to Cape May County districts is part of a bold budget that continues to prioritize education and funds schools at the highest levels in New Jersey’s history,” said Christie. “However, even as we continue to fund education at the highest levels in state history, we must remain willing to reflect on how we are spending our money and work towards solutions that make every dollar we invest count.”

The $97.3 million increase in education aid is the third year in a row of increases in education funding. On average, districts across the state will receive an increase of $75 per pupil.

Ocean City, which receives Upper Township high school students, saw its aid increase by almost $1.5 million. The Ocean City school district will receive $3,351,869 next year.

The governor’s office said the budget includes several new state aid categories. They are:

The Education Innovation Fund: The budget provides $5 million for an Education Innovation Fund to incent innovation and reward success. A portion will be used to provide financial awards to schools and districts that have addressed achievement challenges. The remaining portion of the fund would provide resources districts and schools that develop innovative solutions to address defined problem areas, such as low graduation rates, poor-performing special education students, or low scores in fourth grade mathematics.

Under-Adequacy Aid: The  budget includes a new category of aid to benefit districts that are currently 10 percent or more below their adequacy budget. Approximately $16.8 million will be distributed to 131 districts across the state with districts receiving an average of approximately $128,000 each. Awards are capped at $500,000 for each eligible district.

Supplemental Enrollment Growth Aid (SEGA): First signed into law last summer, the budget provides additional aid to districts that experienced enrollment growth greater than 13 percent from October 2008 to October 2011. A total of $4.1 million will be provided to the 13 districts that received SEGA funding in 2014. 

New Geographic Cost Adjustment (GCA): The Geographic Cost Adjustment is an index that is applied to each district’s adequacy budget in order to account for cost differences across the state. The GCA was revised using new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and made minor modifications to reduce variations by county.

Funding For Opportunity Scholarship Grants: The proposed budget includes $2 million for scholarship grants to allow children in chronically failing schools to attend alternate educational placements. This pilot program will fill the gap and create opportunities for children with no other options. 

School Choice Aid: The budget provides aid to districts that have been accepted into the Inter-district Choice Program. For the 2013-14 school year, 105 school districts will participate in the program, up from 70 during the 2012-13 school year. In total, $49 million is proposed in 2014, an increase of $16 million from 2013.


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