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...

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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...

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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...

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CivicParent NJ Property Tax Viewer: 2020 Levies

The 2020 property tax tables for calendar year 2020 are now available. This data provides insight into the way municipal, county, and local public school governments share the total tax dollars each year. The dataset at the link contains: Tax base data Tax levy data – this is what I’ve visualized below Tax rate...

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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...

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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...

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CivicParent NJ Property Tax Viewer – 2019 Levies

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...

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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 was updated after the budget process concluded. ...

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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 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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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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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...

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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...

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Taxpayer Guide to Education Spending – Total Spending Per Pupil (#OpenData Visualization)

An explanation of “Total Spending per Pupil”, from the NJ Department of Education: “The Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending (Taxpayers’ Guide) provides the public the opportunity to view and compare all dollars spent on students enrolled in the public school system. In 2010-11, the Department updated this publication (previously the “Comparative Spending Guide”) to...

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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...

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“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...

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#PayrollTax Ordinance: Public Testimonials About Our Public Schools

Since launching CivicParent five years ago, I've attended countless public meetings about issues related to property taxes, abatements, and public schools. And one thing that I've learned and that increasingly informs me at each meeting: the wisdom and pluralism of community comes alive during public comment. Public comment is the time when individuals engage...

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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...

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