Extra School Funding Results in Tax Relief for New Jersey Homeowners
By Sarah Nolan
After years of mostly stagnant state funding, a majority of New Jersey school districts received unexpected increases under Gov. Phil Murphy’s inaugural budget. How will these extra funds be used by the districts?
The state will dole out $8.5 billion of its $37.4 billion budget in direct aid to fund education. The aid, which is the largest single line item in the budget, represents an increase of $351 million over the previous aid to school districts.
The shift is a revamping of the School Funding Reform Act and meant to redistribute aid from districts with shrinking enrollment or growing tax bases to those with booming populations and a large number of high-need students.
In total, 391 districts will get more aid, 14 will see no change and 172 will see a reduction — a trend that could continue in future years. That could mean relief for some taxpayers and an added burden for others.
New Jersey's property taxes are among the highest in the nation, averaging $8,690 last year, and the portion that goes to pay for local schools is typically the largest part of the tab.
In northern New Jersey, school districts that benefited most from the bump in funding were not hard-pressed to find use for the money, allocating funds toward property tax relief for residents, school building upgrades, educational programming, staff hires and student safety.