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State Sen. Michael J. Doherty. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe.

Doherty slams Jersey City school funding suit

By Nikita Biryukov, April 30 2019 4:52 pm

State Sen. Michael Doherty slammed Jersey City over a lawsuit it filed seeking to halt changes in the state’s school funding formula that would see the city’s drop by millions in coming years.

“After stealing billions of school aid from the rest of the State for decades, Jersey City’s lawsuit should be tossed in the garbage,” Doherty said.

Under the new funding formula, which tweaks how much state education aid districts receive, Jersey City would lose roughly $27 million next year, or about 7% of its state aid.

Jersey City will likely see the largest gross loss of state aid of the roughly 200 districts expected to lose some funding under the new formula.

Doherty said that change was overdue.

“Jersey City has a long history of abusing PILOT agreements, manipulating the school funding formula, and fighting a citywide reassessment, all in an attempt to hide the city’s growing wealth and shift the cost of operating their schools from local taxpayers to the rest of the state,” Doherty said. “As a result of this scheme, Jersey City collected billions more in State school aid than it deserved, while rural and suburban districts across New Jersey got less as a result of this diversion.”

In its lawsuit, the city claims the changes to funding formula are unconstitutional because they would drop the district’s funding levels, which the suit claims have been inadequate since 2008-2009 school year.

Officials claim the impending cuts will force the district to lay off more than 400 teachers and support staff and cut existing programs.

“The city should drop the lawsuit and consider itself lucky that it collected as much as it for so long,” Doherty said.

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