TRENTON -- Education advocacy groups on Thursday called on Gov. Chris Christie to resist including his own drastic school funding restructuring plan in his state budget proposal next week, and said such a move would energize opponents of the funding scheme.
Christie's overhaul, which he calls the "fairness formula," would shift millions in state aid from urban and low-income districts in order to provide tax relief to 75 percent of the state's school districts.
The advocates said they didn't have any intelligence on whether Christie will make the alterations in his proposed spending plan, but now is "not the time for a wait-and-see attitude."
"Today, we're here because we're concerned that the governor will propose his fairness formula, and we all hear those words in quotes, his fairness formula as the school funding proposal for (next school year)," said Betsy Ginsburg, executive director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools.
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Every district would receive the same amount in per pupil funding, $6,599, and districts would no longer receive additional aid for students who historically need extra support, such as low-income students or students learning English as a second language.
While some suburban communities would see their average tax bills drop by thousand of dollars, urban districts would not only lose millions in state aid for their schools but would be forced to consider raising the average property tax bill by thousands of dollars per household to offset the reduction.
Christie has said his plan would prompt urban districts to make changes and improve their performance.
When asked during is monthly call-in show if the new plan would be included in his budget, Christie said: "Could be. Stay tuned."
At the Statehouse news conference Thursday, advocates said the fallout would be "chaos," as school districts scramble to prepare budget for various funding scenarios.
"As a mayor of an urban city, it's a challenging enough job in itself without having the draconian proposed 'fairness formula' being proposed by our governor," said East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor.
Reporter Adam Clark contributed to this report.
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