From the Star Ledger:
Gov. Chris Christie sent suburban and urban school districts reeling today with the release of district-by-district state aid figures that cut 40-, 50- or even 100 percent of their state aid allotments for the coming year.
The cuts, included in a proposed state budget that would spend $820 million less on public schools next year, were designed to spread the pain around. Each of the state’s nearly 600 districts saw reductions of aid equal to about 5 percent of their current budgets.
But the financial blow fell harder on some districts than others. Many — mostly wealthier suburban districts such as Chatham or Bridgewater-Raritan — saw more than half their state aid disappear. Another 59 districts, including Livingston, Millburn and Berkeley Heights, had all of their aid eliminated.
Urban districts suffered slightly less, as a percentage, but the dollar amounts taken from their budgets, which depend more heavily on state aid, were bigger. Elizabeth lost $14 million; Newark $42.6 million; and Perth Amboy, $7.9 million.
The cuts came in what’s known as formula aid, money used for general education expenses. That aid is doled out based on enrollment, with additional money for students who are poor, have special needs or limited English skills.
The cuts, the biggest to hit schools in years, came in the $29.3 billion budget Christie proposed Tuesday, a spending plan he said made “incredibly difficult choices” to close a $10.7 billion deficit, but one the governor said is designed to be “the first step on the path to a brighter future.”
Many school officials said the aid reduction was larger than they had anticipated and they had not yet determined how they would cope with it. But they predicted programs and staff could be cut.
“It will certainly touch teaching positions, office staffing, administrative positions. Teaching positions are 80 percent of budgets, generally speaking,” said Lynne Strickland, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, which represents 100 suburban districts.