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I have been writing Civic Parent in Jersey City for nearly 10 years, since November 2013, soon after the "Journal Squared" pilot was approved. I started Civic Parent because I cared about local public schools and my community, did not understand local finance related to the public schools, had concerns around that financing, and wanted...

Help build civic “people power” for kids in Jersey City to have water fountains in every public school

I recently spoke after mass at my church, St. Aedan’s, about the fact that most of Jersey City’s public schools lack working water fountains in all the schools. The result, I shared, was that kids often go through the school day thirsty; they are distracted from academics due to thirst, they suffer headaches due to thirst,...Continue reading

Jersey City’s 2022 Municipal Budget: Focus on Revenues & Increasing City Tax Levy

In this post I’m using 2 public datasets: A: Jersey City’s 2022 Municipal Budget (Introduced) with proposed 2022 revenue and expense, located on the city website here. B: Jersey City’s 2015-2021 Municipal Budget summaries compiled in NJ’s User Friendly Budget Database (Excel file downloadable here). On June 15th, Jersey City released introduced its 2022 budget....Continue reading

Understanding Montclair’s Municipal Budget: A Webinar & Teaching to Empower Taxpayers to “Follow the Public Money”

On January 26th, 2022 I joined Montclair Councilor-at-large Peter Yacobellis for a zoom webinar about the Montclair municipal (aka town) budget. My portion of the webinar was a teaching about how to engage the public budget file, which is large, complex, but ultimately a primary source for understanding how the local government both collects and...Continue reading

Accountability Check: a look back at mental health services included in the FY2021-22 Jersey City Public Schools Budget

Jersey City's FY2021-22 public schools budget included concrete, promised investments in mental health services for our city's students. In this post I want to reopen the budget document that was approved last May and revisit some of that promised investment.  A budget can inform future investment but it can, and should, also be used as...Continue reading

Outgoing 2021 Jersey City Board of Education misses mark on showing budgeted investment for mental health services for students; new BOE should aim higher

On Thursday, December 16th, the Board of Education held its final regular meeting of the 2021 calendar year and while many speakers had signed up to speak about mental health services in our schools, and many also sent emails (including those sent from this call to action), the Board of Education did not address the...Continue reading

Jersey City 2021 Budget: A focus on expense (including: structural expense is up $13 million this year)

This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. The spirit of this series is: I’m interested in unpacking the budget and sharing as I go. In that same spirit, I’m sharing interactive Tableau data visualizations that help others dig into the budget. See the full series here. The 2021 budget documents are online here.  Some...Continue reading

Jersey City 2021 Budget: 160 abatements on city’s books; visualizations on abatement type, value, PILOTs, and taxes if billed in full

This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. The spirit of this series is: I’m interested in unpacking the budget and sharing as I go. In that same spirit, I’m sharing interactive Tableau data visualizations that help others dig into the budget. See the full serieshere. The 2021 budget documents are onlinehere. ...Continue reading

NJ’s “Cost Per Pupil” is a flawed comparison of school district cost.

On its face, the NJ Department of Education's "cost-per-pupil" is an inviting metric upon which to compare and contrast school spending among New Jersey's 600+ districts. However, cost-per-pupil is misleading as it distorts the intentional, extra investment for students with more needs, including at-risk students and students with limited English proficiency.  Specifically, the intentionally extra...Continue reading

The Board of Education Should Approve Superintendent Walker’s Schools Budget & Fully Fund Our Schools

Superintendent Walker proposed a fully funded budget on Monday, March 15th, a monumental step forward in Jersey City’s efforts to climb out of a gaping funding hole. The Board of Education should approve this budget. Our children are currently underfunded and the BOE is being presented with a plan to start to meaningfully fix that...Continue reading

Jersey City Schools Parent Advocacy Update: Connect with Jersey City Together

COVID19 remote learning is extremely challenging. It's important to note that some challenges are exacerbated by chronic underfunding of Jersey City Public Schools. For instance, our schools lack: social workers crisis intervention teachers psychologists math & literacy coaches Teachers, paras, and remaining staff are left to absorb much of this work in addition to keeping...Continue reading

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