New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration wants to reward schools and districts that meet state goals and reform plans. The proposal, if approved, will give monetary rewards to schools that make achievement gains and would serve as the central pool of funds for competitive grants.
Acting education commissioner Chris Cerf described the new “Innovation Fund” in the state’s report on school funding, according to njspotlight.com. The grant program would allow schools to apply for projects that meet the Christie administration’s school-reform goals, which include raising achievement or helping the state’s lowest-performing schools.
“For the first time in New Jersey’s history, state education aid would be merit-based,” Cerf wrote in the report.
Most of the state’s $7 billion in aid for schools will remain based on enrollment and needs, but Cerf said $50 million will be allocated to the Innovation Fund, beginning next year. The fund was not in Christie’s recently released budget, but will likely appear in fiscal year 2014.
New Jersey has been working to provide dollar incentives to schools that make gains, and the state’s approach has earned notice under the federal “Race to the Top” competitions, which gives money to states to start reform policies favored by the Obama administration.
The state said last week it would provide $19 million of its recent Race to the Top grant to districts meeting program goals including teacher evaluation and curriculum training. .
Starting in the next school year, districts can apply to the state for funds to implement reforms based on Christie’s priorities.
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