TRENTON - New Jersey lawmakers say that they are taking the first steps to fix the state’s chronically underfunded schools.
About 80 percent of school districts in the Garden State aren’t receiving the funding mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says that the state’s school funding formula relies on property taxes. He says that the formula is broken and unfair to schools.
Sen. Sweeney has introduced a bill that would form a commission to come up with a new funding formula. If the bill passes, the funding commission will have a year to find a way to fill a $1 billion deficit in the education system. Lawmakers will then have to give the plan an up or down vote.
“What this does is it puts a hard line with an up or down vote with no amendments with no politics with no horse trading, it forces us to vote - not to make deals.”
Students at some of the underfunded schools say that they hope that lawmakers are able to find a way to get more funding for their schools.
“Our ceilings are falling down, there's water everywhere…we have horrible textbooks and bad computers,” says Trenton High School senior Kendra Vilus.
“If they just see there are students out here and people out here, that generally want to succeed maybe then they'll help us get the funding,” senior Tatyana DeJesus says.
Sweeney says that he hopes to have the bill passed in the next few weeks.
The education law center put out a statement saying that schools can't wait. The center’s analysts are asking lawmakers to give schools more money right way in the working state budget.