Open Letter/Comments to Mayor Fulop & City Council: What is being done to pressure-test the need for another citywide revaluation?

Sharing an open letter and thoughts that I read into the record at the City Council meeting on Oct 7, 2020. I’m publishing it on CivicParent as part of a new area of content related to Jersey City’s increasingly outdated assessed values and the growing need for another revaluation. The last revaluation was in...

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Safely Reopening Our Schools in NJ: Understanding the Constraints of Fragmentation in the Garden State

I have been trying to learn about the practical implications of reopening our schools in the fall. The stakes are profoundly important and the landscape is fraught with complexity and uncertainty, making this both a bumpy but extremely important learning curve. Much of what I've learned has been from Jersey City Together: from and...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 4b: Public Health & Public Safety (with Focus on Police) Spending in the Garden State

This is a post in a series about NJ's User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town's UFB and...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 4a: View Your Town’s Structural Spending with the “UFB-3 Appropriations Summary” Data

This is a post in a series about NJ's User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town's...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 3: the “Cover Page”, an Inventory of NJ’s 565 Municipalities, & An Overview of How UFB Data was Compiled

This is a post in a series about NJ’s User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town’s...

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Open Letter re: Police Reform to the Mayor, City Council, Chief of Police and Public Safety Director

A Call to Action in Jersey City: Tell Mayor Fulop, the City Council, Chief Kelly, and Director Shea: We need reform NOW! The Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement (JCACM) has drafted this open letter with three concrete, initial demands for police reform in Jersey City.  They are calling on all residents who are interested...

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Jersey City School Tax Expense Calculator for 2020/21 School Funding Year

I am part of the education team with Jersey City Together and in May 2020 we created a school tax expense calculator to help Jersey City residents understand the personal investment for a $50 million increase to the school levy.  Our aim was to the put the power of understand property taxes into taxpayers’...

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What Investing in Jersey City Public Schools Looks Like for 2020/21

On Wednesday March 18th, Superintendent Walker proposed a budget that significantly increases local investment in our public schools. The budget includes a $64 million school levy increase, which represents a 47% increase over last year’s levy. Mayor Fulop “blasted” the increase, citing the harm to taxpayers, stating that “They’re going to destroy the taxpayers....

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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...

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Value & Empower Our Public Schools By Locally Funding Them in the 2020 Schools Budget

Helpful Tips: Thank you to the PTA of Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School for this information & advocacy. We are asking all concerned parents, residents, and taxpayers who care about our public schools to send an email to the Board of Education and Superintendent Walker to demand that Jersey City #FundOurSchools. The Superintendent...

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Why the School Tax Levy is Key to Funding JCPS (and why seeking abatement funds is not a concrete solution).

I've heard "can't we go after the abatement money to fund our schools? Rather than increase the school tax levy?" The answer is: no, at least not directly. I wrote about the intersection of abatements & school funding back in 2015; this current moment has been foreseeable for years, unfortunately our elected are only...

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A Closer Look at Jersey City’s School Tax Rate. Part 2: Statewide Comparisons & the Role of the Tax Base

This is the second in a 4-part series about 2018 school tax rates, with a focus on Jersey City. This series will use public data that I have visualized in Tableau here. To read the first post in the series, click here. “How does Jersey City’s school tax rate compare with the rest of...

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A Closer Look at Jersey City’s School Tax Rate, Part 1: the Public Data

This is the first in a 4-part series about 2018 school tax rates, with a focus on Jersey City. This series will use public data that I have visualized in Tableau here. I was asked recently, “how does Jersey City’s school tax rate compare with other towns and cities in NJ?” We can answer...

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PS #5 PTA Fall 2019 Email Campaign: No more “efficiency cuts” – What’s the long-term plan to fund our schools?

Why do the class sizes keep growing? Why did my child's "special" - art - get cut? Why aren't there any working fountains with potable water? Why did the BOE cut my math support teacher? Because: these are examples of "efficiency eliminations" - what the BOE needs to cut to balance its budget. "Efficiency...

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PS #5 Email Campaign #6: JCPS is Not Fully Funded…City Must Help #FundOurSchools

The PTA Advocacy Team at Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School created this email campaign to keep the pressure on school officials, City Council, and Mayor Fulop as they determine next year's budget in the lead-up to the Monday August 5th City Council meeting.   I am sharing on CivicParent to help spread the word...

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The Clock is Ticking…What’s the Plan to #FundOurSchools?

Sharing...from the Dr. Michael Conti School PS #5 PTA Advocacy Team It's July and the Clock is Ticking...What's the Plan to #FundOurSchools? July 2019...School is less than 2 months away. Tell City Council:   The Clock is Ticking...What's the Plan to #FundOurSchools?     Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT yet resolved. There...

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Sharing from NJTV News: Questions over Jersey City teacher layoffs remain (July 4, 2019)

I spoke with reporter Briana Vannozzi in late June regarding our June 26th City Council action, when we delivered our #JCPSMailboxCampaign letters to council representatives and also stood behind students while they addressed Council. The NJTV news report is below and includes other perspectives including JCPS Teacher John Flora and BOE President Sudhan Thomas....

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PS #5 Advocacy Campaign -Jersey City’s school funding crisis is NOT resolved. City Council — #FundOurSchools!!

Sharing...from the Dr. Michael Conti School PS #5 PTA Advocacy Team Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT resolved. City Council -- #FundOurSchools!! Keep the pressure on City Hall. Demand that Mayor Fulop & City Council:   FUND OUR SCHOOLS!!     Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT yet resolved. There are still...

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PS #5 PTA School Funding Advocacy Action: Keep the pressure on the BOE & City Leadership: No Pink Slips!

Jersey City is not properly funding its public schools. Hundreds of JCPS employees have received layoff notices aka "pink slips" due to systemic underfunding. The time to act is NOW. How you can help. Contact your Board of Education & City representatives. We elect members of our community to govern on our behalf. It...

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JC BOE Used Incorrect Tax Base Value in Its 2019/20 Budget: Explaining the Tax Math

The Jersey City Board of Education used an incorrect tax base value in its budget presentation. It then based its estimated per-homeowner school tax increase estimates on that error. This NJ.com report gives the initial report of the error: “The 2019-20 budget will increase the school tax levy by 10 percent to $136.5 million. The...

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Accountability Checkpoint: Parent FAQs for May 13th BOE Meeting to Finalize the Budget

I’ve been getting some questions in advance of the Board of Education meeting tonight, and thought I’d share via a post, so everyone has access.  This is all public data, and we can endeavor to understand it in community. If you have a question, please email me at Brigid@CivicParent.org. When was the BOE given...

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The Jersey City BOE’s “10% Tax Levy Hike” Isn’t Enough & Doesn’t Value Our Kids or JCPS

Jersey City’s Board of Education is emphasizing a “10%” school tax levy increase as if that’s a big jump. Except 10% isn’t a big dollar-for-dollar jump, when you look at the entire picture. In actuality, 10% is way too small, given the fiscal hole we’re in as a district. A simple example can illustrate...

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Jersey City: Approximately $40 Million of School Tax is Locked Up in Abatement Contracts

This is part of a series about the 2019/20 proposed municipal and schools budgets in Jersey City. Jersey City’s proposed 2019/20 municipal budget shows that over $120 million in PILOT fees are expected to be collected in in the coming year.  What is notable about PILOT fees is that they don’t contribute to the...

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Jersey City’s 2019/20 Proposed Budget: Visualized APPROPRIATIONS (Expenses)

Every municipality must pay for services that are then consumed by its residents. These services include: Police force (eg the JCPD) Fire department Road maintenance for city roads (a note on roads...in Jersey City, Ocean Avenue, Eerie Street, and Manhattan Avenue are city roads, thus they are maintained with city funds...however JFK Boulevard is...

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Jersey City’s 2019/20 Proposed Budget: Visualized Revenues

Every municipality is funded by a mix of income streams, including: Property taxes (everyone pays property tax...you either pay it directly if you're a property owner, or you pay it to your landlord. Your rent includes the cost of property tax) State Aid Local Revenues - these are user-fee income streams like marriage licenses,...

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2019/20 *Proposed* Advertised Appropriations (JCPS Spending for 2019/20 School Year)

Check out prior visualizations here that I'm sharing as part of the 2019/20 budget cycle. This visualization shows multiple lenses into the proposed 2019/20 "advertised appropriations" within Jersey City's public schools, as reported by the Jersey City Board of Education here.  This budget has been prepared by the district administration and a finalized version,...

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How does Jersey City Spend Its Money? A Data Visualization of Budgets from 2015-2018

As we look towards the coming weeks and months, two local governing bodies are undergoing a public budgeting process: The Board of Education will be determining the 2019/20 schools budget. The city of Jersey City will be determining the 2019 municipal budget. A key question is: how can taxpayers engage? How can we peel...

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2018/19 Advertised Appropriations (What JCPS Spends Money On)

This "tree map" shows the 2018/19 appropriations (i.e. expenses) for Jersey City Public Schools. I downloaded the data from the NJ Department of Education website, created a subset of "Appropriations" showing total spending, and then removed subtotals and totals so that only detailed lined items are visualized. Jersey City will lose $27 million in...

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