Collingswood Schools Get More State Aid—With a Catch

New Jersey state education aid increased to its highest levels ever, and Collingswood will see more money in its coffers as a result. But not as much as it seems on paper.

In what the Christie administration calls “the largest appropriation of K-12 education dollars in the state’s history,” Collingswood got a modest bump in its state aid to schools.

The district will receive 1.6 percent more in the coming year than it does now. State aid will total $10,311,157 million, an increase of $164,871.

But the district also was assessed a higher fee for debt service, negating some of that state aid increase in the overall budget. The state assessed Collingswood a $194,346 fee, about $70,000 more than the prior year. The fees started under the Christie administration and have steadily increased for Collingswood schools, district business administrator Beth Ann Coleman said.

With the higher debt fee, Collingswood comes out $94,693 ahead for the coming year in state funding. 

Collingswood school administrators prepared the district’s preliminary budget based on flat state aid, so the news is likely a welcome relief. Earlier this week Superintendent Scott Oswald said the district does not want to “collect one penny more in taxes.” The district’s preliminary budget called for the same spending—$13,854,194—next year as this year.

Statewide, aid to school districts totaled $9 billion for the coming fiscal year, an increase of $97.3 million. Some local districts made out better than others; Pennsauken, for example, saw an increase of precisely $1. Haddon Township’s aid didn’t change at all.

“Throughout my time in office I have continuously argued that in order to grow New Jersey’s economy we must invest in education, and my proposed budget is a reflection of my commitment to our educational system and communities across the state,” Gov. Chris Christie, who is running for re-election this coming year, said in a statement.

“However, even as we continue to fund education at the highest levels in state history, we must remain willing to reflect on how we are spending our money and work towards solutions that make every dollar we invest count.”

Collingswood’s school board president, James Hatzell, said at this week’s meeting that the district continually monitors programs and technology to measure student achievement against cost.

Collingswood’s 2013-14 state aid breakdown, not including the debt service fee, is:

K-12 2013-2014 Total Aid: $10,311,157

Equalized Aid: $7,836,707

Education Adequacy Aid: $0

Choice Aid: $76,024

Transportation Aid: $179,759

Special Education Aid: $908,909

Security Aid: $265,588

Under Adequacy Aid: $0

Supplemental Enrollment Growth Aid: $0

Adjustment Aid: $1,044,170

Additional Adjustment Aid: $0

One Year Aid Change: $164,871

Percent Aid Change: 1.6

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional information about the debt service fee. 

bsdtktr March 01, 2013 at 10:26 PM
kudos to the superintendent on board on a disciplined budget. Now if only the Borough leaders would stop with their tax giveaways


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