Murphy's education budget fully funds school formula for first time

The state budget recently proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy would fully fund New Jersey’s school aid formula for the first time, with a record of $11.6 billion in direct aid earmarked for public school districts.

But not every school district would benefit equally from the $901 million increase in school funding.

Under Murphy’s proposal, 422 districts would see an increase in state aid during the 2025 fiscal year, which lines up with the 2024-2025 school year, according to a district-by-district breakdown of the funding released by the state Department of Education on Thursday.

Another 137 school districts would see cuts, and 15 districts would not see any changes to their funding, according to the proposed budget. (See a full list of districts below.)

“This will be the most significant investment into our public schools in history,” Murphy said during his budget speech Tuesday

Murphy’s school aid funding numbers are still just a proposal. The full state budget must be approved by the state Senate and Assembly and signed by Murphy by this summer before it is finalized.

Long Branch in Monmouth County is set to lose the largest aid amount of total school aid funding, facing a $10.4 million cut. Newark, the state’s largest school district, would see the largest increase, with a funding hike of more than $101 million, according to the plan.

Funding for pre-K is also set to increase by $124 million statewide, putting the total price tag for school funding over $11.7 billion.

New Jersey’s school districts all receive different amounts of state aid based on enrollment, poverty levels, the tax base of the community, and a myriad of other factors. Under a heavily debated revised school funding formula enacted under then-Gov. Chris Christie, some districts have seen their aid decrease over the years as the state worked to adjust numbers to match the new formula.

Under Murphy’s proposed budget, three school districts in Monmouth County — Atlantic Highlands Boro, Henry Hudson Regional and Highlands Boro — would see a 100% reduction in state aid next year because they are merging into one regional district.

The new district, called Henry Hudson Regional, is set to receive 5% more in aid next year than the three districts combined to receive in the current year. Because of the unusual circumstances, the three merging districts are not included in either the list of 137 districts seeing cuts this year or in list of the the 422 districts seeing increases.

School funding is the largest chunk of the state budget, with direct aid accounting for about 20% of the overall budget. Overall direct aid to districts is up 8.4%, in-line with the increases seen last year.

“You cannot put a price tag on the health and well-being of our children,” Murphy said. “This is the most sacred investment we can make.”

In a statement, the Education Law Center praised the full funding of the formula, but said more work was needed to make sure all students have an appropriate education.

“Districts need additional tools, such as the property tax cap adjustment that would allow some districts to go beyond the 2% cap to fill budget gaps, and safeguards, such as proactive stabilization aid, so the most harmed districts can avoid the turbulence of unnecessary staff layoffs and program cuts,” said Danielle Farrie, the Education Law Center’s research director.

New Jersey’s largest teachers union also welcomed the budget proposal while similarly cautioning that more must be done to address the budget cuts some districts are facing.

The union called “on the Legislature to take steps to ensure that no student is hurt by this year’s reduction in state aid to some districts,” the New Jersey Education Association said in a statement.

See how your school district fared in the latest state aid numbers.