By David Madden

by KYW’s David Madden

PENNSAUKEN, NJ (CBS) — It was part politics, part trip back in time for New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney. He toured his old high school as part of a campaign to change the state’s school funding formula.

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Sweeney, class of 77 at Pennsauken High, dropped in on a couple of classes and sat down with several students.

He spoke of the funding debate in Trenton only in passing until reporters took him aside, and noted the three plans now in play. His, another from Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, and one from Governor Chris Christie.

“The Speaker and I both agree the Governor’s plan…we just can’t do it,” Sweeney told KYW Newsradio. “It won’t work. It’s defunding schools like the one we’re in right now.”

Sweeney talking to staff at Pemnsauken HS (credit: David Madden)

Sweeney talking to staff at Pemnsauken HS (credit: David Madden)

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As for the other two, Sweeney wants to address a growing funding gap between districts that were supposed to see cuts several years ago but didn’t, and others that need additional money but can’t get it.

He’d make those cuts while the Speaker’s plan would keep the door open for legislators to change the formula on their own.

Talks aimed at a compromise aren’t getting very far, according to Sweeney.

“We are at a place where we can fix this,” he said. “We know we can fix it, but it means you can’t protect your friends.”

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But it’s unclear at this point whether a deal can be cut in the final year of Christie’s gubernatorial term, or if legislative leaders will have to await the election of a new Governor.