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School Funding

For both the most current and archival information on ELC’s school funding work in New Jersey and other states, please visit our News page.

To stay up-to-date on our work, subscribe to our newsblast emails by entering your contact information in the Join Our Network box on the lower right-hand side of this page.

Advocacy & Litigation

For over 40 years, ELC has led the effort for fair school funding in New Jersey. In the landmark Abbott v. Burke litigation, ELC secured groundbreaking rulings by the New Jersey Supreme Court, equalizing funding in 31 poor urban communities with successful suburban districts to support rigorous, standards-based, K-12 curriculum. The Court also directed the State to provide additional funding for "supplemental" programs to address needs arising from concentrated student poverty; these programs included preschool, full-day kindergarten, intensive early literacy, and social and health services.

In 2008, with Court approval, the NJ legislature enacted the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) statewide, effectively replacing the Abbott remedies. The SFRA is a “weighted student formula” delivering state and local funding driven by a “base cost,” or the per pupil amount necessary to support the core curriculum program for every student regardless of need. The formula provides extra funding to support programs for at-risk students, limited English proficient students, and students with disabilities.

However, an aid cut in 2010, followed by years of flat funding under former Governor Chris Christie, has left hundreds of school districts below the “adequacy” levels required by the SFRA to provide a “thorough and efficient” education. Currently, ELC is working to ensure Governor Phil Murphy and the State Legislature renew the State’s commitment to fully funding the formula.

ELC works with education advocates across the country on school funding, providing technical assistance to lawyers working on school finance cases, preparing amicus briefs in significant cases, sponsoring the annual Litigators Workshop for school finance lawyers, and providing stakeholders with school funding data. For more information about ELC’s work around the country, please go to the Active Cases tab on this website.

Research & Publications

ELC maintains a comprehensive, longitudinal database about New Jersey school funding. To access interactive charts and other information, please visit the School Funding Data page on this website.

For information about school funding in all 50 states, please see ELC’s award winning annual report, “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” which analyzes each state’s school funding system against four “fairness” indicators: funding level, distribution relative to district poverty, fiscal capacity, and school-aged population coverage. Interactive state funding profiles are available here