Update, Feb 5, 2021: I’m re-upping this post from 2020 to share with anyone who’s interested in the upcoming schools budgeting process in 2021. The annual public schools budgeting process is fairly regimented due in part to milestone dates that live in state law. A timeline of key dates from last year’s budgeting process is provided for context but the big picture looks something like this:
- The BOE hosts public meeting on budget to solicit public input. You can call in and weigh in on: what needs to be funded in your school? There are typically multiple such meetings in each budget season; the first one is scheduled for Monday, Feb 8th at 6pm.
- Governor Murphy announces his proposed state budget (which isn’t approved until June). Included in this proposed budget are the state aid numbers. Jersey City is currently in a period of sequential state aid CUTS (read more about that here).
- Superintendent Walker announces his proposed budget, which includes the state aid (previously announced by Gov Murphy) and the proposed school levy. A note of context: as state aid decreases, there is increasing pressure to raise the school levy to ensure schools have the resources they need.
- The BOE must vote on the proposed budget on or around March 22 to satisfy the statutory requirement of sending the budget to the Hudson County for approval. This is the first of two votes to approve the budget.
- Late April / Early May:
- The BOE must give its second, final approval to the budget (presuming county has approved the first budget).
Each year, the BOE typically holds one or more budget hearings – these are meetings separate from the monthly caucus and regular meetings. Follow the JCPS Facebook page for updates on when meetings occur, and to watch meetings live-streamed (note: this is a Facebook “page” thus a Facebook account is not required to access it). Visit the district website page about when public meetings occur, and about how to sign up for public comment.
Feb 24, 2020. 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 was updated after the budget process concluded. See links to news articles and other resources for more details.
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.