Restoring State Aid to Public Schools

It is gratifying to report that the Governor has signed our legislation restoring $44.7 million in state aid to local school districts.

Co-sponsored by Senator Zwicker, our legislation restores 45 percent of scheduled state aid funding cuts to school districts. On the Senate Education Committee we have been working in a bipartisan fashion for months to restore funding that was scheduled to be cut under the state’s antiquated school funding formula. 

Through the Senate Education Committee hearings and traveling throughout Monmouth County we’ve heard from school superintendents, teachers, local school members, and students as well as residents and homeowners. They tell the story behind the numbers: the detrimental impact that having to lay off teachers would have on student learning, or the disappointment of their kids when they hear extracurricular activities like the school band and sports teams may be eliminated.

The restoration in funding is a significant milestone for our local schools. Monmouth County school districts - especially Asbury Park, Neptune, Long Branch, and Red Bank - faced some of the biggest cuts in state funding through the school funding formula. The fallout from the school funding formula, which would have resulted in 140 school districts statewide seeing their state aid reduced, has been one of the most contentious parts of this year’s budget process. 

It’s easy to understand why. 

School districts have been nervously trying to strike their 2024-2025 school year budgets with the potential of major losses in state aid hanging over their heads. How do you write a budget when you don’t know how much money you have?

And that question goes to the heart of the problem local school districts face each year in determining the amount of state funding their district will receive under the state aid funding formula known as S2. When they get bad news about their state aid being cut, their options for addressing the cuts are limited by the 2 percent property tax levy increase for a year. Without the flexibility to raise their local tax levy above the 2 percent cap, districts that lose state aid have no choice but to make cuts.

In addition to establishing a $44.7 million Stabilized School Budget Aid Grant Program in the Department of Education, our legislation also gives districts negatively impacted by S2 the option to increase their tax levy above the two-percent cap to recover funding lost in recent years. 

The governor also signed legislation co-sponsored by my LD11 partners Assemblywomen Margie Donlon and Luanne Peterpaul that allows the commissioner of education to grant an extension for school districts facing state aid cuts to submit their budgets. By giving them up to five days following the enactment of the Fiscal 2025 budget to submit their own budgets, the legislation will give local school boards and school superintendents a little breathing room to react to any additional aid they get in the state budget.  

While these initiatives alleviate some of the burdens of the loss of state aid for some schools, we still need to take a critical look at modernizing New Jersey’s school funding formula to ensure schools are funded appropriately in future years.

Our kids’ futures depend on it.


First elected in 2018, Senator Vin Gopal is a lifelong resident of Monmouth County. Senator Gopal chairs the Senate Education Committee and serves as Senate Majority Conference Leader. He represents residents of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Freehold, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbor, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township and Tinton Falls in the State Senate.