School Finance 101: The Sweeny-Prieto School Aid Proposal: An Analysis
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
POLICY BRIEF: Weber_SweeneyPrieto_June26_2017
SUPPLEMENTAL FILE (Regression Output): SweeneyPrietoLog
This brief presents an analysis of the school funding plan presented by New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, referred to here as “Sweeney-Prieto.” The proposal:
- Will drive more aid to districts with higher proportions of Hispanic, free lunch-eligible, and LEP students.
- Will drive less aid toward districts with students classified as having a special education need.
- Will drive more aid on average to districts in the CD District Factor Group; however, there is great variety among these districts, with some losing significant amounts of aid.
- Will give less aid to very small districts.
- Will drive aid towards districts making greater local taxing effort, holding school cost and taxing capacity
While this last characteristic makes Sweeney-Prieto more “fair” overall, there are still individual districts that are receiving significantly less or more aid than would be predicted by measures of cost, capacity, and effort.
In addition, the aid allocated under Sweeney-Prieto is less than 2 percent of the aid proposed by the governor’s budget for FY18; the proposal, therefore, has little overall effect on the bringing New Jersey’s school budgets to adequacy as designated by the state’s own funding law.
Based on these conclusions, I offer the follow recommendations:
- Policymakers should ensure that those districts receiving significantly less aid per pupil under Sweeny-Prieto – particularly those whose changes in aid are far under prediction – do not suffer undue harm from the proposal.
- Lawmakers should carefully consider the unintended consequences of basing the reallocation of aid largely on factors such as the Growth Cap or Adjustment Aid, and adjust the allocation of aid accordingly.
- All stakeholders should realize the scale of Sweeney-Prieto renders it largely ineffective in making up for the chronic underfunding of SFRA over the last eight years.
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