An Atlantic County minister was among the speakers rallying for adequate state school funding at a rally in Trenton Thursday.

Bishop John Gandy, pastor of the Abundant Life Worship Center Church in Egg Harbor City and president of Building One New Jersey, said the rally was to thank the state Legislature for rejecting changes to the state school funding formula proposed by Education Commissioner Chris Cerf.

Rallying groups from the Our Children/Our Schools Coalition of about 20 organizations also wanted to send a message to the governor about the need for adequate funding as he prepares his FY2014 budget proposal expected next week.

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Building One New Jersey promotes diversity in the state’s municipalities and school. A number of school districts in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties would have lost state aid under the proposed changes.

Gandy, who lives in Hamilton Township, said the school districts where he lives and works both have diverse populations with high rates of students in the federal free lunch program. He said the school funding formula recognizes that diversity and provides funds as needed for at-risk children. The proposed changes would have reduced those funds.

“We know there are budgetary issues,” Gandy said. “But the school funding law is the law, and it is important that it be enforced.”

The rally included some legislators and members of groups that make up Out Children/Our Schools.

"This is about priorities," Jill DeMaio, a parent and organizer for Save Our Schools NJ said in a statement. "New Jersey schools have been under-funded by $3.6 billion during the last three years. The legislature's resolution is a clear signal that it's time to turn a corner and put our kids first by getting the state on track to full funding."

Advocates said there are ways to increase state aid to schools this year and phase in full funding of the legislatively mandated formula. Among the solutions offered was restoration of the 2009 tax rates on residents making more than $400,000 per year and closing certain corporate loopholes.

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