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Debt payments wipe out proposed aid to some Bergen school districts

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

SPECIAL REPORT: A close look at the school-aid numbers in Gov. Christie’s proposed budget shows some Bergen County districts taking sizable hits in debt-service payments to the state, effectively wiping out aid bumps in some cases.

The figures include a whopping 275% increase for Paramus, to $194,300 from $51,812, as well as:

  • a 166% hike for Teaneck , to $128,662 from $48,302;
  • a 146% increase for Ridgewood , to $105,260 from $42,837;
  • a 91% jump for Demarest , to $10,287 from $5,381;
  • a 90% increase for Bergenfield , to $10,486 from $5,497.

Dozens of other districts show increases around 55%.

SEE CHART: Assessment for Debt Service on SDA

NJ Spotlight first brought the situation to light:

Debt Payments Cast Shadow on Christie’s School-Aid Picture

The story says, in part: “According to data provided by the state yesterday, nearly 500 districts will see double-digit percentage increases in assessments paid to the Schools Development Authority for debt service on construction grants for projects launched in the last several years.

“For many districts, it won’t be a lot of money, with the average increase at about $26,000.

“But for more than dozen districts, the impact will top $100,000, not small change when state aid increases were as small as $1 for 41 districts and averaged about 1 percent overall.

“Statewide, the SDA assessments will climb by more than $12 million to $33.9 million, a 60 percent increase over this year’s total.”

According to NJSpotlight, the situation “stems from a line item in school budgets that was added in 2011. Starting that year, districts were charged 15 percent of debt service for grants they had received from the SDA for new construction.

“The state treasurer’s office said this year’s sizable increase to $33.9 million statewide is due to changing terms on the more than $9 billion bonds issued by the Economic Development Authority supporting those grants, leading to the one-time hit.”

READ THE FULL STORY: Debt Payments Cast Shadow on Christie’s School-Aid Picture

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