Choice Aid: Where Money Ignores Need
A Windfall for Choice Districts
Another absurdity is that Choice districts are (literally) paid for non-existent students. When Choice districts have decreases in their Choice student populations they receive as much aid as they got prior to the Choice student decrease, with the money now rechanneled through a peculiar aid stream known as "Additional Adjustment Aid." This practice means that Choice Aid spending is a one-way ratchet up; where Choice districts get more money when they take in more Choice students and they keep the money they got previously when they lose Choice students. For a Choice district, it's heads they win, tails they break even.
The amounts of Additional Adjustment Aid going to Choice districts is very large in a few cases. Hoboken is getting $255,000 in Additional Adjustment Aid for 2014-15. Englewood is getting $497,000. Brooklawn is getting $142,000. Clinton Township is getting $169,000. These aid totals are huge amounts considering non-Choice districts only got an additional $20 per student for 2014-15. (Choice districts get the same $20 per student too)
Effects on Districts Losing Students
How the Windfalls Are Used
The Context of Aid Unfairness
My answer is that New Jersey’s distribution of K-12 aid is already so unfair and irrational that even the diversion of less than $60 million should be scrutinized.
The second unfairness is that rural and exurban districts receive 2-3 times as much aid per pupil as their suburban peers do. For instance, West Orange has 6,926 students, of whom 36% qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. Marlboro has 5,248 students, of whom 4% qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. West Orange only has $860,000 in valuation per student, Marlboro has $1.3 million per student. West Orange’s per capita income is $43,000 a year. Marlboro’s is over $50,000.