Needy districts pressed to accept modest increase
[New Jersey] School superintendents from Orange, Paterson and other needy districts told lawmakers yesterday they were coerced into accepting inadequate aid for the coming year by state officials who threatened intense audits and potential funding cuts for those seeking more.
Of the 31 communities that receive special assistance under the state Supreme Court's Abbott vs. Burke rulings, only seven have sought more than the 3 percent increase offered by the state Department of Education.
"It's made very clear to us that if you would choose to go for additional funding, the tasks and documentation process would be much more arduous than it would be if you accept the 3 percent," Michael Glascoe, Paterson schools superintendent, told the Legislature's Joint Committee on the Public Schools at a hearing in Trenton yesterday.
"If you apply for more you run the risk of not even getting the 3 percent," added Trenton Superintendent Rodney Lofton. "It's one of those risks you take with no promise."
Assemblyman Craig Stanley (D-Essex), co-chairman of the committee on the Public Schools, called the situation "very, very, very troublesome."
"There's a serious issue here," he said. "What we're engaged in, perhaps, is not just deception but might even be considered criminal."
This from The Star-Ledger.