The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 3-2 on Tuesday morning that the state must spend an additional $500 million on public education in Abbott ("special needs") districts, according to media reports. New Jersey has 31 Abbott districts that receive state funding to help address educational deficiencies in urban areas. Past court rulings have said that students in poorer districts deserved as good an education as students in other districts.
In Hudson County, Union City is expected to receive an additional $32.8 million in state aid; Jersey City will received $21.5 million; West New York is slated to receive $14.7 million; Harrison is to receive $6 million, and Hoboken will receive $1.7 million, according to a report on NJ.com.
The court's ruling was based on a 2009 case which implemented a formula for funding schools in New Jersey.
Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. (D - Hoboken) issued a statement following the ruling on Tuesday.
“As a school teacher, I’m pleased with the court’s decision today," Ramos said. "I know, first hand, the challenges teachers face in the classroom. This funding is necessary to ensuring our schools have every resource available to provide a thorough and efficient education. I believe every child deserves the right to a quality education in New Jersey, regardless of their zip code."
Ramos is a public school teacher in Paterson.
The ruling for increased funding comes just a few days after Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno spoke at William Paterson University's commencement ceremony. Some students from the university turned their backs on Guadagno during her speech as a protest to the education funding cuts by the governor's office.
Gov. Christopher Christie called the court's decision "disappointing, but not unexpected" in a press statement on Tuesday.
"My principles remain the same," Christie said in a press conference. "New Jersey has some of the highest taxes in America. New Jerseyans are already incredibly overtaxed. Therefore, as I have repeatedly stated, I do not believe raising taxes is the answer. That has not changed."
Sean Connors, a candidate for Assembly in the upcoming Democratic primary for the 33rd District as well as a Jersey City Board of Education member, also released a statement. He said that it was important to restore funding, and that it could come from bringing back an income tax surcharge for millionaires.
“Jersey City schools are facing severe budget cuts, the elimination of after school programs and the loss of literally hundreds of jobs, including many teaching positions," Connors said in a statement. "Hopefully, this ruling by the court will restore funding for all of these critically important educational services and give our kids the opportunity they need to have a better life. I urge Governor Christie and the state legislature to take all necessary steps to fully fund education in Jersey City and throughout the state. One way to do that would be to restore the income tax surcharge on millionaires that would provide up to a billion dollars in school aid and property tax relief." - Ray Smith