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Dear Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman DiMaso,
As a Little Silver resident, I am writing to implore you to continue to assist us by advocating for Special Education Funding reform. I appreciate the work you have already done, but the political conversation must continue for all Little Silver students to realize the education they deserve.
I am aware that special education funding is a topic on both sides of the aisle. S2 set forth Senator Sweeney’s commitment to fully fund Special Education Categorical Aid, and to fully fund Extraordinary Aid for our children with the highest needs The Republican Caucus proposed Every Child Counts, which would make special education funding 100% categorical instead of the current 1/3 categorical and 2/3 wealth equalized breakdown.
Based on the released State Aid numbers, Little Silver will be realizing an increase of about $50,000 in Special Education Categorical Aid due to the increase of $206 million to Formula Aid. We appreciate the increase, but it is simply not enough.
In Little Silver, the local tax levy supports about 94% of the budget. For this 2018-2019 school budget, we lost several staff positions. We can’t afford to lose more! Our community prides itself on its unique identity. We have a special culture that is unlike most districts, as families maintain residency for generations. We hope to maintain this intimate environment, as oppose to a larger consolidation model, and we need your support in advocating for fair and equitable funding so we can sustain this model.
While we would love to see the Legislature fully fund the School Funding Formula which is currently funded at 58%, we are aware of the fact that the State of New Jersey faces a fiscal crisis and full funding may not be realistic. That said, as special education needs increase, the unintended consequence to our local budget is to cut general education programming. Therefore, fair and equitable special education funding will benefit all Little Silver students.
At this time, we implore the legislature to consider the following options:
- Fully fund Extraordinary Aid for children with the highest needs
- Make Special Education Categorical Aid 100% categorical by removing the wealth indicator AND fully fund Special Education Categorical Aid
- If fully funding Special Education Categorical Aid is not feasible, then provide an additional cap adjustment option that would allow school districts that are BELOW their Local Fair Share to increase Special Education Categorical Aid spending beyond the 2% cap. This would allow districts to make up the difference between what the State is capable of funding up to the 100% threshold of that category of aid.
As the representatives of the Little Silver School district, we respectfully request you re-examine the special education funding process.
Little Silver Parent