This is post included in both my abatement series and a series about the User Friendly Budget in NJ. We need better disclosures in NJ to understand the impact of tax abatements on the local fiscal landscape, particularly as it relates to public schools. The user friendly budget – mandated by the state starting in...Continue reading
Note: the visualizations below are best viewed on a computer or tablet (vs a phone). Jersey City recently announced it was terminating an abatement on four buildings within the Beacon complex. The reason: “ownership defaulted on an obligation to retain and present employee records, city officials announced.” This is a good reminder that abatements are...Continue reading
Last month (October 2020) the state published the 2019 property tax tables. This is a “look back” at the local property tax landscape in New Jersey. It’s a wonderful treasure trove of public data from municipal, county, and local public school governments including: Tax base data Tax levy data Tax rate data Property appeals data...Continue reading
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 I’m publishing it on CivicParent as part of a new area of content related to Jersey City’s increasingly outdated assessed values and the growing need for another revaluation.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 2017/18....Continue reading
I’ve been getting asked about my thoughts re: the Board of Education election. I wanted to offer two insights that matter to me from a funding and advocacy perspective. Take it or leave it; every vote is sacrosanct and reflects myriad personal considerations. These are two factors that matter most to me and I'm sharing...Continue reading
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 with...Continue reading
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 the...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
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 in...Continue reading
This is part of a series about the User Friendly Budget. This is a relatively short post to lay out what’s in the User Friendly Budget. I also want to share some of how I think this file can be used by taxpayers and advocates. As I explained in the first post in this series,...Continue reading
Five years ago, New Jersey began mandating that every municipality* in New Jersey file a “User Friendly Budget (UFB)” as part of the annual budgeting process. This file is “user friendly” for a few reasons: The data is aggregated in unique ways that help us see the structural nature of how the city both collects...Continue reading
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’ hands. ...
Jersey City’s Board of Education took a huge step forward, following Superintendent Walker’s courageous lead to invest in Jersey City Public Schools. I didn’t write up a post specific to this but am sharing the NJ.com article below that explain the vote. Also providing a visual – shared from Jersey City Together – that shows...Continue reading
It's Saturday May 9th and we are within a week of the 2020/21 schools budget being passed for next year. Parents are on the 98th yard line of a fight to push Superintendent Walker's full budget across the goal line. This post is aimed to bring parents and school advocates up to speed, give a...Continue reading
PS #5 PTA Campaign: Tell the Board of Education: Approve the 2020/21 Schools Budget - Invest in Jersey City's Kids The PTA Advocacy Team at Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School created this "Call to Action" email campaign ahead of the final vote for the 2020/21 schools budget season that we can share with the...
Here is what got cut JUST LAST YEAR (2019/20 schools budget): 160 teachers - CUT 25 teachers’ aides & assistants - CUT 20 janitorial, security, and food service staff - CUT 15 administrators & supervisors - CUT All reading recovery teachers - CUT 22 out of 25 literacy coaches - CUT 19 out of 21...
I normally use this blog to share data and analysis about taxes and public funding, but this is a more personal post. We are nearly a month into isolating at home and I wanted to share some reflections on education in this current moment. I have 2 kids in Jersey City Public Schools and I teach...Continue reading
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. They’re...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
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 can...Continue reading
In February 2020 the City Council introduced its 2020 budget (the city has typically approved the annual budget only in the summer / Quarter 3 timeframe — I don’t know the reason for the lag, only that the lag exists). Upon release of the budget, I converted the PDF into Excel and then uploaded to...
To help taxpayers access the annual city budget, I've visualized it the 2019/20 proposed budget in Tableau, a data visualization software. Tableau puts the power of analysis in the user's hands; my hope is that YOU will dig into this budget data and feel empowered to engage, or perhaps more fully engage, the annual budgeting...Continue reading
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 now...Continue reading
I've created this infographic as part of the 4th post of my 4-part series about the School Tax Rate in Jersey City. The municipality's growth is a factor in the underfunding of our public schools. There is a domino effect at work; city growth is ahead in the line of dominos, and our kids being...Continue reading
This is the third 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 and to read the second post, click here. Talking about taxes going up is...Continue reading
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 New...Continue reading
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 this...Continue reading
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 Eliminations"...Continue reading
This is a timeline of stories published or shared on CivicParent as it relates to funding of Jersey City Public Schools:
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 &...Continue reading
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 are...Continue reading
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.
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 over...Continue reading
Jersey City Public Schools are $100 million underfunded and the stories we’ve heard about how this underfunding is impacting students are real. Join us as we press the City Council to put $16 million towards the schools budget. This will help prevent unnecessary layoffs, stop the sale of Central Office, and help the JC BOE...Continue reading
The education team of Jersey City Together has been researching to understand, in concrete terms, the process by which City Council can allocate funds to JCPS. I’m a member of that team so wanted to share: 1) NJ law NJSA 40:48-17-1 allows the municipality to allocate surplus funds to the public schools. Sharing that below....Continue reading
I wanted to share some civic questions that can be asked on the record or included in an email to the BOE. Why did five of Board of Education trustees approve a budget that included an incorrect tax base number? I wrote about this error in detail here, but to quickly recap: the Jersey City...Continue reading
I am a team member with Jersey City Together and a leader on the JC Together education advocacy team. I co-wrote with this op-ed with Dr. Jyl Josephson and Rev. Dr. Alonzo Perry, Sr. about Jersey City’s school funding crisis. No Way to Run a World Class School District
Tell Jersey City's elected: we need you to provide better leadership. Fund Our Schools. How you can help. Keep the pressure on the City and Board of Education. We elect members of our community to govern on our behalf. It is our civic responsibility to communicate our concerns & express our priorities. Please help send...Continue reading
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 is...Continue reading
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 school...Continue reading
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 notice...Continue reading
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 how...Continue reading
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 school...Continue reading
I’ve been asked more than a few times: “Do you have any tips for going in front of the City Council for public comment?” So I figured I’d write up a post about it. There are actually two opportunities to speak at any City Council meeting: During 2nd reading ordinances. At the end of the...Continue reading
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 a...Continue reading
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, pet...Continue reading
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, after...
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 back...