NJ's Department of Education released its state education aid summaries for the 2023/24 academic year and Jersey City is set to lose another $51 million next year. This will amount to $276 million in state aid reductions since the "S2" law was passed in 2018. Jersey City will likely lose $134 million by the time...
Category: Jersey City Public Schools Budget
$89M Maintenance of Equity to JCPS & the Eventual “Fiscal Cliff”
I wanted to share some thoughts around the $89 million "maintenance of equity" funds that Jersey City Public Schools received this week. The quick highlight, if I could make one, is: yes, this $89 million is indeed a windfall...but we are still facing a fiscal cliff and we all have to be aware of that...Continue reading
Jersey City Budgets & the Connection to Property Tax Expense (an interactive teaching visual)
This is part of a series about the 2022 Jersey City budget. To see the full series, click here. For a listing of public data used in this post, please see the bottom of the post. Many thanks to those in community who gave feedback about this topic/post and helped improve it from concept to...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
Interactive tools to learn about school tax increase in Jersey City
The Jersey City Board of Education increased the school tax levy...now what? I'm getting that question from more than a few people so I figured I'd share two tools: A school tax calculator - view an estimate of how your school tax expense will increase in 2022 A 2021 property tax split -- personalized for...Continue reading
Some final words on 2022-23 Schools Budget, anti-school tax rhetoric, and city/BOE budget timelines
This is my final post re: the Jersey City Public Schools budget which will be voted on this Monday. The 2022-23 budget is far from certain to pass; anti-school-tax rhetoric may reduce funding so let's be honest about what that means: possible staff reductions or vacancies that won't be filled. And possibly more. A few...Continue reading
Jersey City Schools Budget, 2022-23, a brief update & next steps FYI
This is an update on the unfolding budget process for Jersey City Public Schools; the budget was introduced Tuesday March 15th and will be finalized on or before next Monday, March 21st. I watched Tuesday’s board of education meeting and then reviewed the budget document on my own, trying to make sense of the numbers...Continue reading
A picture of state aid reduction in Jersey City
I wanted to share a picture of the state aid reductions to Jersey City Public Schools. State Aid can be confusing because there are various forms of state aid, including: Adjustment aid – this was a one-time bucket of aid that was tied to the initial enactment of SFRA in 2008 Equalization aid — this...
Putting Jersey City’s low school tax rate into perspective
Jersey City lost another $68 million in state aid on March 10th, 2022. This cut was expected, part of the phased “S2” cuts that have been reducing Jersey City’s state aid by $100+ million just in the last three years alone. A question I continue to get is: why is state aid being cut, anyway?...
Jersey City Public Schools: Visualization for Federal Covid-19 Aid
The Jersey City Public Schools have received over $160 million in federal COVID-19 aid since 2020 and I was curious how the funds have been used, the status of what remains, and what insights we can glean from this public data particularly as we approach the annual budget process. I have published a few visualizations...
Midway through Jersey City’s “S2” state aid cuts: assessing the fiscal landscape.
It has been nearly four years since NJ passed the “S2” law, leading to state aid cuts to Jersey City. In this post I want to assess the fiscal landscape of the public schools using nine years of user friendly budget data, with particular focus on: where the district is with state aid reductions (and...Continue reading
What is in our local public schools budget? (a tool for advocates)
What’s included in our schools budget, and how is it structured (laid out)? I wanted to create a visualization for the 2021-22 budget; that is provided below. I’m interested in the details of the budget because we need to see, with greater clarity, how funding is being used to invest more in full-time teachers 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 Public Schools Staffing Shortage: A data-driven view from Board Docs
Jersey City is experiencing a staffing shortage in its public schools. While this is part of a nationwide trend, local attention and solutions are needed particularly as we experience our first fully funded budget in over a decade. In this post, I am sharing data I compiled in later October from JCPS “Public Board Docs.” I compiled...Continue reading
Improving accountability and transparency for Jersey City Public Schools
In 2021 Jersey City Public Schools fully funded its schools for the first time in over a decade. Reasonable questions now follow related to transparency and accountability, including: How do we hold the district administration and school board accountable for full investment in our kids? I’m part of a team with Jersey City Together and...Continue reading
In one chart: Jersey City’s seismic change in tax levies fully funds the schools and reallocates property tax
A "levy" is the amount raised in property tax to fund a government budget. Typically, a levy is one of multiple sources of revenue that fund total expense. In 2021, Jersey City is poised to both fully fund its schools and also enter a new paradigm with respect to property tax. Let's review what's happening...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
JCPS: How does the schools budget process work?
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...Continue reading
Tax Abatements 801: We need better abatement disclosures in NJ to show impact on public schools
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
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’ hands. ...
Jersey City BOE Passes Mr. Walker’s Full Budget: $52.7M
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
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 was updated after the budget process concluded. See...Continue reading
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 now...Continue reading
Infographic: Jersey City: the Municipality’s Role in School Underfunding
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
A Closer Look at Jersey City’s School Tax Rate, Part 3: A Case for Increasing the School Tax Levy
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
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 New...Continue reading
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 this...Continue reading
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.
City Council Can Allocate Surplus Funds to the Public Schools.
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
Civic Questions for the Board of Education Upon Passing of their 2019/20 Budget
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
Jersey Journal Op-Ed: No Way to Run a World Class School District
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
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 school...Continue reading
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 how...Continue reading
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 school...Continue reading
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 a...Continue reading
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, pet...Continue reading
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, after...
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 back...
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 state...Continue reading
Jersey City’s 2017 School Based Budgets: Learn what’s being funded in your school
This bubble chart shows 2017 actual spending within Jersey City's public schools, as reported by the 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report ("CAFR"); 2017 is the most recent year available for this report. The CAFR is an annual report detailing both qualitative and quantitative information about the district. It is prepared by the district, approved by...
Jersey City Facing $27 Million State Aid Cut for 2019/20 School Year
Governor Murphy released his proposed fiscal year (FY) 2019/20 budget for NJ and this week, and it included a re-allocation of state education aid. The impact to Jersey City was both expected and gut-wrenchingly sobering: a $27 million cut in “Adjustment Aid”, a type of excess state aid that Jersey City has been receiving for...
NJ School Funding Basics: “Adequacy” Budget, School Tax Levy, & the Impact of Inflation (A Case Study of Jersey City)
This article is about Jersey City’s public schools funding crisis. If you’re unfamiliar with this issue, you can read more about it here. I’ve been attempting to de-puzzle some of the tax math that is vexing Jersey City with respect to its public school funding crisis, and have found three factors that deserve public scrutiny...Continue reading
NJ School Funding Basics: NJ Department of Education Data & Reports
This is a quick initial post to point taxpayers to an excellent resource for rich, official public data about our public schools here in NJ. The NJ Department of Education (NJ DOE) has, for at least the past 10 years, published a host of different datasets on its “DOE Data & Reports” page. The data...Continue reading
JCPS Funding Crisis: An Overview
Jersey City Public Schools Funding Crisis Based on the state funding formula, Jersey City Public Schools are currently $100 million under-funded. Jersey City students, parents, teachers, and staff experience this under-funding everyday. This is a structural deficit and a threat to our school system, our city, and our community. Get the facts, connect in community,...Continue reading
“Jersey City Public Schools are *Structurally* Underfunded”…What does this mean?
This started out as a Facebook post on my CivicParent Facebook page. I’ve turned it into a quick post, for posterity & to help explain some of the financial mechanics of Jersey City’s under-funding crisis. “Jersey City’s public schools under-funding is a structural problem” – what does this mean, exactly? Here’s one way to look...Continue reading
Jersey City & NJ: Student Group Data from NJ School Performance Reports (A Focus on ELL, At-Risk, and Special Education Students)
The NJ Department of Education publishes annual data relating to certain “student groups”, per school. The table below focuses on three groups that, per state funding law, are entitled to more funding based on the level of need. These groups are: At-risk students, defined as lower income students who qualify for free or reduced lunch...Continue reading
NJ Special Education Statistics | #DataViz #OpenData
In this post I’m sharing statewide special education data, with ability to drill into Jersey City special education data specifically, for both Jersey City Public Schools (the public school system) and charter schools attended by Jersey City students. I am sharing the statewide data because it’s informing to see the varying degrees of special education...Continue reading
Jersey City’s Taxpayer Funded Schools: Enrollment Overview with Focus on Income Diversity
The charts below show enrollment data for Jersey City Public Schools. The Jersey City Public Schools system is the 39-school district under the purview of the Jersey City Board of Education (BOE) and is funded through taxpayer dollars. Public charter schools also receive taxpayer dollars, but they are operated and overseen independently of the JC...Continue reading
Jersey City Public Schools – A Public Good Requiring Public Funding
Jersey City Public Schools is the city’s largest public good, funded through a combination of state, local, and to a lesser degree, federal tax dollars. In 2018/19 the public schools budget was over $600 million; this is larger than the city’s entire budget. The schools are a public good because they educate the vast majority...Continue reading