Jersey City Public Schools 2020/21 Budget Process: Working Timeline & FAQs

As we enter the budget season for Jersey City Public Schools, I wanted to share some upcoming process info – key dates & timeframes in case it’s helpful for parents and advocates. It’s never too late to get involved. 

BOE Budget Process – Working Timeline

This timeline will be updated as more info is released by the district. I’m sharing the dates below as general date markers given information that is available to date. Stay tuned!

2020/21 Budget

2020
February 19, 2020

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 (Budget Listening Session)

The BOE hosted a listening session for the public to provide input on the budget before the process commences. The meeting is available via Facebook live stream:

February 24, 2020

Monday, Feb 24th 2020 – Caucus Meeting

Listen for any discussion re: budget. The only prior public discussion was the listening session hosted by the BOE on Wednesday Feb 19th (which you can view via Facebook Live video above).

 

 

February 25, 2020

Feb 25th: Governor Murphy Budget Address (State aid numbers may be released).

In late February / early March, state aid numbers are released by N.J. (this is when we’ll find out aid cut for Jersey City).  The release is typically around the time the Governor gives his budget address, where he introduces his budget priorities for the next fiscal year.  State aid – of which Jersey City gets a piece – is part of the Governor’s state budget process (hence Jersey City Public Schools is tied to the state process).

The reduction in state aid, along with the needs defined by Superintendent Walker and the BOE, will inform the local funding mandate for Jersey City.

Learn about state aid cuts and the impact on local paradigm here. What I think is critical in this phase of the process is listening to Mr. Walker and the professional educators about the needs…the diversity of our student population in Jersey City brings with it a diverse set of needs that must be funded via our school levy.

February 27, 2020

Thursday, Feb 27th, 2020 – Monthly Public Meeting (Votes Taken)

Listen for initial budget discussions.  State aid cuts may be known (TBD).

 

 

March 16, 2020

Sometime in March: JCPS Budget Introduced (Date TBD)

At some point in March, the BOE will release a draft budget (March 16th date shown here is just a visual placeholder).

March 22, 2020

On or around March 22nd, 2020 – Tentative (Initial, Draft) Budget Due (Date TBD)

On or around March 22nd, 2020 – Tentative (Initial, Draft) Budget Due (Date TBD)

Previous year’s budget documents show that there are certain milestone due dates for this budgeting process (for instance, check out last year’s budget timeline here).

For reference, here is language from state law that shows some of the constraints the district administration is working within, in terms of budget deadlines and expectations: “18A:22-7.Budgets; preparation. 18A:22-7. The board of education of every school district having a board of school estimate shall prepare and deliver to each member of the board of school estimate, on or before March 22 in each year, and the board of education of every other school district shall prepare a budget for the school district for the ensuing year, on or before March 22.”

March 23, 2020

Monday, March 23rd, 2020 – Caucus Meeting

Monthly caucus meeting for March. We may have a published, initial budget at this point.

March 26, 2020

Thursday, March 26th – Monthly BOE Meeting (Votes Taken)

This will be the first monthly BOE meeting after the budget is made public.

April 20, 2020

Later April: Public Hearing on the Budget (Date TBD)

This is a special meeting specific to the budget. The date is TBD (to be determined).

April 27, 2020
April 30, 2020
May 4, 2020

Early May: JCPS Budget is finalized (Date TBD)

In early May the budget will be finalized, after which it cannot be changed.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why is the school budget important?

A public schools budget is, at its heart, about how collective money (eg property tax dollars) will be used to serve our city’s kids in their schools. Is there enough money to meet the needs? What is it going towards … the classroom? Social and emotional support? After school enrichment programs? Something else? The budget can help inform all of these questions.

What types of meetings are held by the board of education?

There are two main types of meetings: (1) regular monthly meetings and (2) special meetings. Its not atypical during the budget season to have special meetings related to the budget.

What are the monthly meetings like? And where are they held?

Each month, there is a BOE meeting held in two parts, on separate nights:

  • Monday is the caucus  meeting
  • Thursday is the regular meeting. These are meetings where BOE trustees vote on business.

Public comments are allowed at both meetings. The scheduled list of monthly meetings are here.

Caucus. Caucus meetings are held at Central Office (346 Claremont Ave). This meeting is scheduled for the Monday and intended as prep for the regular meetings when actions (ie votes) are typically taken. Here’s a view of the caucus meeting — it’s a conference room that fits 25-50 people:

Regular meeting. These meetings are held in public school auditoriums (larger spaces for public to gather).  The BOE votes on a range of actions at the monthly meetings. Here’s a view of a monthly meeting, from January when Jersey City Together gathered to press for funding for the 2020/21 schools budget.

What are the special meetings like? When do we find out about them?

Special meetings, including budget-specific special meetings, are announced as the process unfolds.  For instance, last Wednesday the BOE held its first hearing related to next year’s 2020/21 schools budget; it was a listening session that has been written about here. The district announces these meetings on its website, in local newspapers as required by law, and through its Facebook page.

How can I stay in the loop on advocacy around these meetings?

I recommend plugging into Jersey City Together. This is an organized team of parents, school advocates, and taxpayers who work together to better our schools. Learn more about this advocacy at NJ Together’s education page.

 

Posted in Advocate, JCPS Funding Crisis, Schools.