Six years ago when I ran for the Assembly, one of my objectives was to strengthen our public schools. For years, the Legislature sought a solution to the oft-controversial process of allocating state tax dollars to New Jersey’s 616 school districts. Whereas our State Constitution mandates a “thorough and efficient” education for all public school students, our goal must be to ensure that all students are adequately educated and prepared for the workforce.
Until recently, New Jersey had systematically allocated state aid to two groupings—the 31 “Abbott” school districts and the 585 “non-Abbott” school districts. The Abbott designation arose from a 1990 State Supreme Court ruling that held certain school districts with high concentrations of poor residents and relatively low property value were entitled to special state aid. Abbott districts received about half of all state aid while educating only one-quarter of all public school students.