Jersey City Board of Education Passes Historic School Levy Investment

Tonight the Jersey City Board of Education passed its 2022-23 school budget along a 5-4 vote, approving funds that staved off staff layoffs in the face of historic state aid cuts.  The passing of this budget will create ripple effects on the city and county budgeting processes (the city and county have yet to reveal their calendar-year budgets).  More to come on CivicParent as that unfolds.

For now, I wanted to credit the BOE trustees who voted for this budget:

  • Lorenzo Richardson
  • Gina Verdibello
  • Noemi Velazquez
  • Gerald Lyons
  • Paula Jones-Watson

This may not have been a popular vote but in my view it was the right vote. These trustees voted in the face of misinformation from City Hall, a press that often struggles to digest and share the facts and thus explain the complexity to the public, and a gentrifying landscape with escalating home prices and rents that make any new expense a legitimate concern. Raising school tax in this environment was a courageous decision on behalf of children who need public schools and money to fund them, and I commend these trustees for their votes.

The vote is here. And here are some resources to help taxpayers unpack this budget, the vote, and the tax impact:

Compute your school tax impact in Jersey City – a CivicParent calculator
JC’s low school tax rate, a public data perspective
NJ’s cost per pupil is flawed comparison of school district cost
A picture of state aid reduction in Jersey City
Midway through Jersey City’s “S2” cuts: assessing the fiscal landscape

I would be remiss not to point out: the district is not magically fixed with a fully funded budget. Our district has suffered from years of budget cuts, gutting of staff in top-level administration and within the teacher and staff ranks, and over two years of pandemic-driven constraints. It is imperative that advocates keep pressuring this district for more accountability across the board. Accountability will not happen on its own; it requires the same pressure and advocacy that was brought to the funding fight. It requires engaged community that cares about public schools and the children who live in this city.

The work must continue; for now, I commend the five board trustees who voted in good conscience to fully fund the schools.

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