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RED BANK ‘WINNER’ OF STATE AID BOOST

Gov. Jon Corzine’s proposed budget includes a more than 18-percent increase in state aid to Red Bank schools.

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From today’s Star-Ledger:

Details of Corzine’s state budget proposal released yesterday show the first significant, across-the-board increases for schools since 2000, with double-digit increases in some middle-class towns.

The biggest winners were places like Red Bank, Cliffside Park and West Orange, where increases as large as 18 percent were based mostly on large numbers of low-income students.

In 50 such towns, school aid will rise at least 10 percent, after a virtual freeze that lasted more than half a decade. The budget proposal now moves to the Legislature for review.

“I thought I read it wrong,” Red Bank Superintendent Laura Morana said. “I saw 18.6 percent (increase) and thought it must be an error.”

More:

In 16 of the poorest 31 — known as Abbott districts for the name of a plaintiff in the case — residents will be asked to contribute a total of $17 million more in local taxes to make up for small cuts in aid.

Corzine’s budget had the most to offer communities one rung up the socio-economic ladder from the Abbotts — a group that also happens to be largely Democratic, the same party as the governor. To help these towns, the proposed budget would establish a $66 million pot for schools with high concentrations of low-income students.

In Red Bank, the superintendent said the additional aid could provide a needed cushion in a budget now straining to offer music programs and world language instruction.

And this is from the Asbury Park Press report on the development:

The districts slated for the largest increases in state aid have more than 15 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches — one measure of a community’s relative wealth. Those 217 districts are restricted to spending the funds on literacy programs, preschool and full-day kindergarten to “help us address the achievement gap” for low-income students, [Education Commissioner Lucille E.] Davy said.

District plans will have to be approved by the state before the money is allocated, Davy said.

Morana told the Press that the increase means $2.36 million in additional aid.

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