Letter to Residents from Westfield Board of Education
Monday, March 4, 2013 • 5:35pm
Dear Residents of Westfield:
You may have read the headlines that two-thirds of New Jersey’s public school districts have received an increase in State aid for the 2013-2014 school year. On February 28th, the Westfield Board of Education was notified by the State that the District would receive an increase of one dollar in State aid for school funding next year. It is important for Westfield residents to understand how Westfield fares in State funding allocations and how it affects our community.
Under the current State Funding Formula, Westfield is considered a wealthy district, and therefore a disproportionate burden is placed on the local taxpayer. Westfield residents send more than $74 million annually in income tax to the State of New Jersey, yet in the next school year, Westfield will receive just over $2.8 million in State aid for our 6,300 students. While State aid will average $5,881 per student in New Jersey, Westfield will receive only about $450 per student. As a result, approximately 92% of school funding in Westfield will once again be dependent on local property tax dollars. Also of note, while our enrollment has grown 30% since 1991, our State aid has dropped $5.7 million or by 67% since that year.
In addition to receiving notification of the $1 increase in State aid, the Board also received a bill from the State to repay $75,230 of previously awarded State grants to Westfield. Thus, when you include this recently imposed debt repayment, total State aid to Westfield went down, and the cost of public education in Westfield has been further shifted to our residents.
The Board will continue to expect efficiencies from the District’s operations and continue to pursue successful cost-saving measures. These efforts help bring Westfield’s average cost per pupil well below the State average. Westfield spends $11,666 per pupil while the State average cost per pupil is $13,290.
The Board of Education believes it is important for Westfield residents to understand the full picture and the real challenges we collectively face. The Board remains committed to being diligent stewards of the community’s investment in our public education system and we will be undeterred in providing the best education possible for the students of Westfield despite these fiscal challenges.
We look forward to public discussions with all those who attend our public Board meetings during March, as we continue to refine our 2013-2014 school year budget for final approval in the near future.
Please see the letter by Dr. Dolan, our Superintendent of Schools, also published this week, to learn about many of the exceptional accomplishments of our students.
Westfield Board of Education