For years, the League has offered professional development programs to its membership on a wide-range of issues confronted by both locally elected and appointed officials. As successful as this programming continues to be, many within our ranks have asked for additional programming, focusing less on the mechanics of running a local government day-to-day but on larger, policy issues.
In 2004, as a response, the League’s Executive Board authorized the creation of an educational foundation. The League of Municipalities Educational Foundation was incorporated in September 2004 under IRS regulations as a 501(c) (3) corporation. The purpose of the Foundation is to conduct, encourage and support in-depth educational programs for local government officials and employees. At the same time, this work will add to the public knowledge, inform critical decision-making and benefit all the citizens of New Jersey.
The work of the Foundation began in December 2007 with a Mayors Retreat on the School Funding Formula. The retreat, funded with a generous grant from The Fund for New Jersey, involved more than 40 mayors and experts studying and discussing the issue over the course of two long days. The result was a report and recommendations posted on the Internet and transmitted to the Corzine Administration offering a unique and full spectrum view of local issues related to school funding.
The Trustees followed up that substantial initial effort by developing a schedule of timely education for 2008. They selected two themes for the year: School Funding and COAH/Affordable Housing. These two topics have enormous implications for property taxes, responsible planning and quality of life throughout New Jersey, are closely linked to the functions of local government, and are tremendously important for local officials to understand.
In September, the Foundation will produce a full day educational experience titled Understanding and Implementing the New School Funding Formula. This September 19 program will be hosted at Middlesex County Community College in Edison. This is an opportunity to review recommendations developed at the December retreat and to learn about the details and implications of the final legislation. The Foundation program is partly funded by The Fund for New Jersey and will feature panel discussions from Education Commissioner Lucile Davy, DCA Commissioner Joe Doria and prominent scholars on the implementation of the school funding Act. The program focus is to help mayors and other local elected officials, school superintendents, school board members and business administrators get a full understanding of funding changes and what they will mean to New Jersey K-12 public education and property taxes.
The second theme for 2008 is affordable housing in New Jersey. This year, COAH promulgated new rules and formulas for determining the required affordable housing for each community in the state. A fall educational program is under development to help local governments and their critical partners understand the profound, far-reaching impact of these complex rules and the status of affordable housing in the State.
Louise Wilson, League Third Vice President, also serves as President of the Foundation. Edison Mayor Jun Choi, who took the lead in coordinating the Foundations efforts on the new school funding formula is the Foundation’s Vice President.
League Past President Paul Matacera, League Executive Director Bill Dressel and League Assistant Executive Director Michael Darcy also serve as trustees. The Board of Trustees voted recently to expand the number of trustees from five, and the League is in the process of extending invitations to potential trustees.
For more on the September 19 program, please click here. Information will also be sent to municipal officials, school board members, school superintendents and school business administrators.
The League’s Educational Foundation hosted a Mayors Retreat in Princeton in December on school funding. Pictured, left to right, are Mark Murphy of the Fund for New Jersey, whose grant underwrote the retreat and Educational Foundation Vice President and Edison Mayor Jun Choi.