- Last Updated on 02 August 2012
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TRENTON — Some 371 New Jersey school districts are receiving funds to reimburse them for costs incurred last year under the state's new anti-bullying law although for many, the money may not go very far.
The state Department of Education awarded just under $1 million to 371 districts, with amounts ranging from $38,519 in Camden, to $46 in Oradell, and $36 in the Haledon Borough School District.
Charter schools grants ranged from $9,166 for the Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology, to $123 for Hoboken Charter School.
The state gave all requesting districts an award amounting to 20 percent of the eligible expenses they had asked for. Total requests had totaled $4.9 million.
The money came from a $1 million fund announced by the Christie administration in the spring, after the state Council on Local Mandates determined that without any funding, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights was an unfunded mandate, and thus unconstitutional.
Haledon Superintendent Richard Ney said he was disappointed that his K-8 district, which has 1,045 students, did not receive more funds. He said the district had requested $180 for the cost of processing anti-bullying claims, including the postage required to mail notifications to affected students' parents.
"Obviously, it is somewhat amazing that an award of $36 would be made. What can we really do with it?" Ney asked.
Ney also serves as superintendent of the Manchester Regional High School District, which received $133 from the anti-bullying fund, after requesting $665.
The Allamuchy School District filed the legal challenge that led to the Council on Local Mandates ruling on anti-bullying funds. That small Warren County district received $3,147.
Superintendent Tim Frederiks said he is pleased there is some funding, "but disappointed that the state did not anticipate the greater needs, as demonstrated by the amount of funds requested .
"Also, we are concerned that this fund was a one-time opportunity, yet the expenses are recurring each year — we would like to know that the funds will be allocated yearly and in a more comprehensive manner," he said.
For next year, the Department of Education has budgeted $158,000 to support two department staff positions, to work on anti-bullying training for districts. Beyond that, state officials said they will work to "identify resources available to districts and schools to support their work in implementing the law."
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