#EveryKidCounts Campaign Wins $10 Million for LD11 Schools

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Today, Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey announced that Monmouth County school districts in New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District will receive nearly $10 million in extraordinary special education aid following the victory of their #EveryKidCounts campaign this summer.

This additional state funding will go toward the high costs of extraordinary special education in Monmouth County schools, reducing the burden on local property taxpayers. The three 11th District legislators credited the win to the hundreds of Monmouth County residents who supported and signed the #EveryKidCounts petition, raising awareness of the issue and fighting to include an additional $55 million for extraordinary special education aid in the State budget - ten times the increase originally proposed.

Common expenses for special education programs including personal aides, custom learning resources, and renovated classrooms can create mounting crises for cash-strapped school districts. Under current law, schools are meant to qualify for extraordinary special education aid if they spend more than a certain amount on educating a student with special needs.

A public school is eligible if it spends more than $40,000 on a single student’s education - approximately twice the average per-student cost statewide - and can theoretically qualify for up to 90 percent reimbursement of its costs.

“Historically, this lifeline has never been funded at more than 80 percent - and since 2012, has plummeted to 50 percent,” said Downey (D-Freehold), who oversees issues relevant to residents with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities as Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. “Thanks to the #EveryKidCounts campaign, though, we’re seeing our district’s extraordinary special education aid jump by more than 33 percent, bringing us a huge step closer to full funding of this vital program.”

“When you get right down to it, this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of hundreds of people who came together, spread the word, and told legislative leadership that they needed this funding in the final budget,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Thanks to the voices of folks from towns all across Monmouth County, we’ve seen an outpouring of public support that’s really raised the standard for this issue and helped us fight hard to see it through.”

The Freehold Borough School District will receive more than $300,000 in extraordinary special education aid next year, a 53 percent increase from this year. Freehold Township will receive more than $1 million, an increase of 29.9 percent. Meanwhile, Freehold Regional High School’s extraordinary special education aid will reach $2.8 million, increasing by 10.8 percent.

Eatontown schools garnered an increase of 178.2 percent, receiving more than $275,000 next year, while Ocean Township will receive more than $1 million in funding, an increase of 27.4 percent. Tinton Falls will receive a 21 percent increase in its funding, reaching a total of $625,000 in state aid.

Asbury Park schools will receive nearly $440,000 in extraordinary special education aid next year, rising 134.5 percent from this year. Neptune Township Schools will receive nearly $850,000 in extraordinary special education aid next year - an increase of 43.3 percent - and Neptune City schools will more than double their current aid, receiving nearly $225,000 in state funding.

Long Branch and West Long Branch will see their funding increased by 43.9 percent and 28.2 percent, respectively, with Long Branch receiving more than $600,000 for its special education costs and West Long Branch schools receiving $75,000.

Finally, Red Bank schools will receive more than $200,000 in extraordinary special education aid next year, an increase of 58.1 percent from this year, and Red Bank Regional will receive more than $150,000, an increase of 70.6 percent.

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