I recently met with high school student leaders in Jersey City Public Schools who are sharing stories of the conditions inside their schools. They go by the name “Revolutionizers of Jersey City High Schools” (r.o.j.c.h.s.) and have an Instagram channel here. Their pictures and videos give a glimpse of what they are experiencing on a...Continue reading
This is part of a series about local budgets and property tax. View the series landing page here. I am sharing in this post a tool I’ve been using (and will continue to use) as I write this series. It is a property tax dashboard, created from a fantastic set of datasets published by the...Continue reading
This is part of a series about local budgets and property tax. View the series landing page here. I am launching a new series on CivicParent about the local government budget process and property tax. My hope is for this series to be: A practical roadmap for taxpayers who may want to engage the 2023...Continue reading
This post made my head spin a bit … the math and timing is wonky and confusing. I’ve done my best to break it down and welcome dialog and feedback about anything that is unclear. This past week, Jersey City’s municipal council passed its annual 2022 budget with a $112 million increase to the city...Continue reading
I’ve often received the question: how does our town’s property tax compare to the state average? Using the most recently available 2021 statewide data (from the Division of Local Government Services here), I put that visual together below. When viewing the visual, it’s important to note: This visual shows property tax for 3 local governments...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
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
On June 15th, Jersey City released introduced its 2022 budget. This is a part of a series about that budget. In this post I’m using three 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...Continue reading
On June 15th, Jersey City released introduced its 2022 budget. This is a part of a series about that budget. In this post I’m using two 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...Continue reading
The Jersey City municipal budget was introduced last week (June 15th) via resolution 22-4009. For the past three years, I've dug into the municipal budget to better understand it. I write about it and share insights and analysis as I proceed; this year will be the fourth cycle and this year I'm adding some live...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...
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...
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
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
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
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
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. ...
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
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
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
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
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 [email protected]. 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
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...
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
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 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
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
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
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