In my years within Jersey City Public Schools as both an advocate and a parent, I have heard stories of children who experience poor school climate. School climate is a casual term that some of us may use in a colloquial sense, but it is also framed professionally by school and mental health experts in...Continue reading
It’s worth sharing some good news as we head into the new school year: Jersey City Together’s education team has helped push for water remediation in over a dozen schools. Specifically, more than a dozen schools now have new, 21st century working water fountains. The list of schools that have had new working water fountains...Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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
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
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...
This letter was created by the Jersey City Together Education Team. I am hosting the letter on CivicParent to support the advocacy. To learn more about Jersey City Together's advocacy and ongoing work (and how you can plug in), click here.
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?...
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...
Let’s take a look at how a tax bill comes together. It’s an interesting and empowering exercise to tie your local government budgets – and the property taxes needed to fund them – to your personal property tax. Every year, the state publishes town-by-town property tax data here that includes a wealth of information including...Continue reading
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’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
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
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
I have written this post with the help and input of Jessica Taube and Divya Dodhia, who are both parents, mental health professionals, and school advocates. The three of us are members of Jersey City Together's Education Team. We came together through our advocacy work and put this page together as a resource for parents,...Continue reading
Update: the BOE did not speak in public to the issue of mental health counselors at the Nov 29th BOE meeting but they did take up an issue around teacher pay which you can read about here. The post below summarizes an issue that is ongoing and merits public attention and advocacy. There is a...Continue reading
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
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
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
The Board of Education (BOE) nearly shut down “remote” public comment last week and it’s worth explaining what happened, simply to highlight how important it is for the district and board to improve transparency and communication – both internally but also with the public. “Remote” public comment is calling into a public meeting and sharing...Continue reading
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
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
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 data...
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This is a timeline of stories published or shared on CivicParent as it relates to funding of Jersey City Public Schools:
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...
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...
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...
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
Every year, the state of NJ publishes property tax data on the Department of Community Affairs website. I have combined all the available data, for tax years 1998 through the most recently published data for 2018, into one tabulation and visualized it in Tableau. This dashboard is intended to provide taxpayers with a bird's eye...
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 add...Continue reading
I was prompted by this tweet by Alpha Sigma Nu to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan 21, 2019). When I saw the tweet, the first thought that popped into my head was “better understand and share about school diversity.” There is a dataset I’ve been dabbling with for quite some time now; it’s the...Continue reading
This is part of series about school funding, property tax, and community in Jersey City. To read other posts in this series, click here. In my previous post, I wrote about the tax base: what it is, how we can find its value in public records, and how Jersey City's value compares with other towns...Continue reading
This is part of series about school funding, property tax, and community in Jersey City. I'm learning about Jersey City's tax base, tax levies, and property tax profile so that I can better understand our school funding paradigm. I'm sharing with the community, through this platform, as I learn. To read see the full series,...Continue reading
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
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