Stafford School District Slated to Lose More State Aid Than Projected

Mar 13, 2019

Last week when the Stafford Township Board of Education voted to withdraw from the New Jersey Department of Education’s Preschool Education Expansion Aid program and return to its tuition-based preschool model for the 2019-20 school year, one of the reasons given was to avoid a shortfall in funding not covered by the grant given by the state, particularly as the district faced an anticipated drop in state aid. Well, later in the week, the Department of Education released its report detailing the amount of state aid each school district will receive for the next school year, and the news wasn’t good for Stafford. Not only is the district losing more in state aid from what it lost last year, it will lose more than anticipated.

Heading into 2019, as district administrators began preparing for the upcoming budget process – which must be completed by mid-May, according to state and county guidelines – the projected drop in state aid was some $255,000. However, once the figures were released March 8, the district found out it would be losing even more, to the tune of $368,984, or 3.91 percent from last year’s figure of $9,482,878.

“Yikes!” school board member Joe Mangino posted to Facebook shortly after the report was released. “We were expecting to lose about $250k ... $369k is a stinger.”

Last year, Stafford lost only a bit more than $48,000 – a mere half-percent from the previous year’s aid. This time the dropoff is larger in two specific categories, equalization aid and school choice aid.

For 2018-19, the district received $7,039,555 in equalization aid. For 2019-20, it will drop to $6,736,381, a difference of $303,174. For this school year, choice aid was $360,252, and for next year it will be $294,442, a difference of $65,810.

Equalization aid is allocated according to each district’s ability to raise enough local revenue to support its budget. Choice aid is provided to ensure choice districts are adequately funded to cover costs associated with allowing choice students to attend district schools.

Stafford will not see a reduction in aid for the following: transportation ($507,193), special education ($1,288,981) and security ($238,635).

Meanwhile, as anticipated, the Southern Regional High School District will see an increase to its state aid.

“The additional state aid we will be receiving for 2019-20 falls in line with the amount we were projecting,” said Southern Business Administrator Steve Terhune, who at last year’s school board budget meeting outlined a potential increase during each of the next four years.

The increase in aid to Southern will be $175,607, or 7.55 percent over last year’s aid tally of $2,325,842. For 2019-20, the district’s state aid will be $2,501,449 – with the only increase going toward special education funding ($1,677,070). Southern’s aid for transportation ($630,356) and security ($204,023) remains unchanged.

— David Biggy

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.