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EO-89: Governor Christie Creates the Education Funding Task Force

EO-89: Governor Christie Creates the Education Funding Task Force

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Published by: Governor Chris Christie on Mar 06, 2012
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07/19/2013

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EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 89WHEREAS, preparing every New Jersey student for collegeand career, regardless of zip code, is one of the foremostgoals of this Administration; andWHEREAS, on February 23, 2012, the Department of Educationreleased its “Education Funding Report,” which advanced severalfunding and other reforms designed to meet that goal and closethe State’s persistent achievement gap; andWHEREAS, among those reforms were a number of suggestedchanges to the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) fundingformula; andWHEREAS, the SFRA is used to distribute State aid toschool districts through a formula that provides more State aidto districts with greater numbers of students determined to beeconomically at-risk and districts with less property wealth;andWHEREAS, an at-risk student is defined in the SFRA as astudent participating in the Federal Free and Reduced PriceLunch Program; andWHEREAS, under the SFRA, each at-risk student is funded atbetween 147%-157% of his non-economically disadvantagedcounterpart; andWHEREAS, a June 2011 report from the Office of the StateAuditor found that as many as 37% of the students enrolled inthe Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program are enrolledin the Program fraudulently, with the result that certaindistricts are likely receiving more State aid than they arerightly entitled to under the SFRA; andWHEREAS, in August 2010, the Office of the StateComptroller released a report titled “A ProgrammaticExamination of Municipal Tax Abatements,” which found, among
 
2other things, that tax abatements keep school districts’property wealth artificially low, with the result that thosedistricts are receiving more State aid than they are rightlyentitled to under the SFRA; andWHEREAS, the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Proposal calls forapproximately $7.8 billion in SFRA formula aid, an increase of$213 million over Fiscal Year 2012 State education funding andthe largest appropriation of State education dollars in NewJersey’s history; andWHEREAS, as Governor, I have an obligation to both NewJersey’s students and taxpayers to ensure that education fundsare allocated fairly and equitably; andWHEREAS, the conclusions of the Education Funding Report,the State Auditor report, and the State Comptroller reportsuggest that some of the State’s education dollars are beingmisdirected, and ultimately misappropriated and misspent, bydistricts with fewer at-risk students than reflected throughparticipation in the Federal Free and Reduced Price LunchProgram and with greater local property wealth than reported tothe State because of municipal tax abatements; andWHEREAS, given the conclusions of the Education FundingReport, the State Auditor report, and the State Comptrollerreport, the tens of millions of dollars or more in State aidthat may have been misdirected to school districts in the past,and the tens of millions of dollars or more that may bemisdirected to school districts in the future, a Task Force onEducation Funding is necessary to study the conclusions of thevarious reports and recommend changes to the SFRA whereappropriate;NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the Stateof New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the
 
3Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDERand DIRECT:1. There is hereby created the New Jersey EducationFunding Task Force, hereinafter referred to as the “TaskForce.”2. The Task Force shall consist of seven (7) membersappointed by the Governor who shall serve at his pleasure. TheGovernor shall select a chairperson from among the members ofthe Task Force. The Task Force shall consist of individualsfrom both inside and outside government who have knowledge orexpertise in the areas of education funding, policy,administration, governance, and fiscal management. All membersof the Task Force shall serve without compensation. The TaskForce shall organize as soon as practicable after theappointment of its members.3. The Task Force is charged with examining the State’sschool funding formula and developing recommendations for theGovernor concerning those areas of the formula that may besusceptible to fraud or subject to outside manipulation,including, but not limited to, participation in the FederalFree and Reduced Price Lunch Program as a proxy for at-riskstatus and the municipal tax abatement programs. In developingits recommendations, the Task Force shall specifically considerthe following issues: (a) economically effective measures ofstudent poverty; (b) educationally sound measures of definingat-risk students; (c) appropriate adjustments to the SFRA toaccount for municipal property ratable bases that may beartificially deflated as a result of municipal property taxabatements; (d) identifying all aspects of the SFRA that may besusceptible to fraud, or subject to undue outside manipulation

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