There's been a lot of speculation about school aid for next year, and none of it is good.
In a burst of optimism, the Education Law Center calculated that it would take just $60 million more to fund the state school funding formula next year. That's not much, but the real problem is coming up with a replacement for the almost $1 billion in federal stimulus aid former Gov. Jon S. Corzine used last year.
Then word came out that Gov. Chris Christie is considering reducing "adjustment aid" next year, which the Education Law Center calculated would cost affected districts about $343 million.
Adjustment aid is really more political than educational. The new formula set an "adequacy" budget for every district. But the funding law also said no district would immediately lose aid. The adjustment aid is basically the difference between what a district should get in aid, and what it was already getting.
Losing that aid could hit some local districts very hard. Atlantic City could lose $12.7 million, Vineland $16.7 million.
Then there is the question of whether cutting school aid could hurt the state's chance to get federal Race to the Top funds in the next round. The Education Law Center has sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on that very subject.
To say school districts are very nervous would be an understatement. The state budget is a week away. If the most dire predictions for school aid cuts (15 percent) are true, there could be quite a few school staff on the unemployment line in July.
Click here to see the Education Law Center's aid calculations.