All North Jersey counties will see an overall increase in state aid for education if Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2023 is approved – with the exception of Sussex County, where 19 of the 25 school districts lost nearly 8% of their aid, and Hudson County, which lost about 5% of total aid.

Bergen County schools will receive the most aid in North Jersey, 15% more than this year; Essex County to receive 11% Morris County – 9.8%, Passaic County – about 6.7%, Union County – about 12% and Warren County – an increase of 2.6%.

Other more rural New Jersey counties, including Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth, have also lost state aid, but not as much as Sussex County.

State aid to Sussex County has fallen by nearly $ 8 million – from $ 87.8 million in the current fiscal year to $ 80.7 million in 2023. The same thing happened in 2021, when the northernmost county of the state lost $ 5 million.

“Twenty-three million have been confiscated from Sussex taxpayers in three years,” said Craig Hutcheson, head of the Kitatini Regional School District and a resident of the county. “It’s excessive.”

Sussex County Farm Scene.

The cut in Sussex County is due to a drop in registration. County schools have seen the biggest drop in entrants nationwide since 2009, at about 29%.

But this cut in aid is happening at the end of the pandemic and will hurt students more than ever, school principals Kitatini and Stillwater said. The cuts needed to be postponed or weakened using the state’s federal aid reserve from the U.S. Rescue Plan, said Sen. Stephen Oroha of Sussex.

Enrollment stimulates funding, said Senator Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, the newly appointed chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “It has been in force in the law for many years, so there are no surprises at any time,” Gopal said. “The problem with freezing these layoffs is this: What are you doing with an area that has a significant number of students?”

Gopal and Oroha are members of a task force set up to revise the state formula for funding schools, as part of a bill sponsored by them to review how public schools are funded.

Gopal said the task force was “re-learning” the formula to make sure the factors it takes into account are in line with the latest figures, including the 2020 census, free and reduced lunches and poverty levels.

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