By Erin Roll

Montclair could be getting some additional state aid for the 2018-2019 school year. But even with the new aid numbers, the district is still receiving much less than it once received from the state.

The district is on track to receive $7,428,526 in state aid for the next school year. Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan is to increase funding for the state’s schools, with districts receiving the full amount they are entitled to under the state’s school funding formula.
Montclair’s aid amounts are still below what the district once received, prior to the Christie administration.

For the 2007-2008 school year, Montclair received $8,560,983 in state aid. The following year, Montclair’s aid amount was upped to $9,038,249.
It was during the 2010-2011 school year that many districts found themselves facing steep cuts in aid.

By 2011-2012, Montclair’s aid money had dropped to $5,747,796. In the years that followed, the district’s aid allotment mainly stayed flat, between $6.5 million and $6.7 million.

Montclair first learned of its state aid numbers in March, and July’s announcement did not result in a change to that number. Some districts around the state saw their numbers go up as a result of last week’s announcement, others saw a decrease and some remained the same.

“Assuming the numbers are accurate, I am very pleased with $7.4 million in additional funding. I would have liked to see more, considering we pay enormous property taxes in Montclair, but it’s a start. Thankfully, we didn’t see a reduction [in state aid],” BOE Vice President Joe Kavesh said.

Before the state aid announcement was made in March, Montclair had been faced with the prospect of having to eliminate several jobs, including paraprofessionals.
In 2017, the district faced the elimination of as many as 50 paraprofessionals. Many of the staff members who were laid off have since been called back or rehired.

“A stronger, fairer New Jersey means making sure that New Jersey’s schools are receiving the funds they need to advance academic excellence for our students,” Murphy said in a statement released on July 13. “After years of neglect, we are turning the page to bring a balanced approach to school aid by removing the growth cap on funding increases and finally beginning the process of fully implementing the state’s school funding formula established in 2008.”

Almost all school districts will receive at least 58 percent of what they are entitled to under the school funding formula.

In New Jersey, school districts are divided into District Factor Groups: school districts that are similar to each other in terms of socio-economic status, the number of adults with a post-high school education, and other factors. Montclair is part of the I group, the second-highest group. Other Essex County groups in the I group include Glen Ridge, Verona, Cedar Grove, Livingston, Roseland and the Caldwells.

Among similarly-sized districts in District Factor Group I, Livingston was initially awarded $3,271,039 for the 2018-19 school year. But following the governor’s announcement,

Livingston’s allotment was increased to $4,137,165.

South Orange-Maplewood received $5,033,885, and this amount remained the same after the governor’s announcement.

Mount Laurel received $4,836,580, and this amount remained the same.