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
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 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
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 [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
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...
Jersey City is not properly funding its public schools. Our public schools are $100+ million underfunded and it's about to grow much worse. The time to act is NOW. How you can help. Contact your city representatives. We elect members of our community to govern on our behalf. It is our civic responsibility to communicate...Continue reading
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
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
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
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
This is a property tax dashboard for NJ residents who may be interested in learning about the property tax profile of their municipality, including: 1) Latest available (Tax Year 2017) property tax metrics available from NJ’s Property Tax portal. 2) Tax base growth chart from 1988 to 2017 – how has your town’s tax base...
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
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 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
To help parents and taxpayers understand (a) what schools are in their neighborhood and/or (b) which elected representatives are tied to which schools, I’ve mapped all 40 Jersey City Public Schools (along with accompanying basic profile information, as listed on the JCPS Website) against 2 map layers: Jersey City Ward (each ward is represented by a...Continue reading
Jersey City Public Schools: CivicParent Funding FAQs I have been trying to understand how Jersey City Public Schools are funded and am sharing questions I’ve endeavored to answer. As I learn, I’m sharing with the community in the hopes others will also learn and advocate. Where applicable I’ve provided citations and resources so that anyone...Continue reading
I’m sharing a new map I created that pin-drops all abatements approved since Mayor Fulop and the current City Council took office*, i.e. since the summer of 2013. I created the map after reading Terrence McDonald‘s recent article from the Jersey Journal titled “Has Steve Fulop Evolved on Tax Abatements?” It’s a valid question and...Continue reading
I detailed in my last post how the JCPS budget is funded by a mix of state, local, and federal tax dollars. But how is that money then spent? That is the main focus of this post. Governor Christie approved a budget this week that included $8.5 million in state aid cuts to Jersey City Public Schools...Continue reading
I will be writing about this issue as it unfolds, it’s a big topic that taxpayers should understand. This is a quick primer on why the Sweeney-Prieto proposal to cut $8.5 million in state aid from Jersey City Public Schools would, to use Superintendent Dr. Lyles term, cause a “major hardship” for the district....Continue reading
I teamed up with Ellen Simon to co-author an op-ed in The Jersey Journal about how Jersey City’s PILOT policy harms our public schools. The article is dense with facts, figures, and assertions. To ensure our assertions are as accessible as possible to the public, I’ve created a landing page to help readers sort through the...Continue reading
I teamed up with Ellen Simon, a friend, fellow public school parent, and former board trustee of the Jersey City BOE, to co-author an op-ed in the Jersey Journal. The topic: how Jersey City’s PILOT policy “robs” funding from our public schools. The term “rob” is not ours…to find out who did coin the term, in context...Continue reading
If you are new to the topic of abatements, I recommend my tax abatement series here. I’ve updated my 2015 long-term abatement map to include 2016 data. The map is provided below, along with reports showing underlying data grouped by project type (affordable housing vs. market) and by ward. Source data was derived from the city’s user friendly...Continue reading
I’m taking my kids out of school early tomorrow so they can go into NYC and witness some stellar role models in action. These role models are Inventors. Technologists. Scientists. Civic Pioneers. They are the Air Fresheners of PS #5, and tomorrow they will be finalist presenters at the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. The Air Fresheners are Ivonne, Nancy,...Continue reading
A strong public school system is essential bedrock to a healthy community. Yet in Jersey City, our bedrock is threatened by a fiscal policy that is over-reliant on PILOTs. Here’s the crux of the problem: PILOTs help grow the city, which in turn increases demand for public schools. But PILOTed residents don’t pay school tax, leaving taxpayers to bear the burden of...Continue reading
I emailed this letter to Mayor Fulop on September 24th. Dear Mayor Fulop, After reading this article in today’s Jersey Journal, I’m asking you, as a parent of two children in the Jersey City Public School (JCPS) system: Please stop politicizing our public schools. I was at the Jersey City Board of Education (BOE) meeting...Continue reading
As I explained in my last post, transparency around abatements is finally, slowly, increasing. As data is unlocked, taxpayers can glean greater insight into how their tax dollars are spent. To help with this effort, I’ve mapped the 146 abatements from Jersey City’s 2015 “user friendly budget” into an easy-to-use Google map. Let’s Get Civic with...Continue reading
Tax abatement reporting in Jersey City is finally getting more transparent. Two distinct authoritative bodies have mandated changes that require Jersey City (and other cities) to get onboard the transparency train. This news should come as a relief to taxpayers since abatements now constitute over 20% of Jersey City’s annual revenue yet have been sharply criticized by the NJ Comptroller as being too opaque and...Continue reading
Frank Conwell Public School (PS) #3 is a school committed to sustainability; they now have a sign to prove it. And it’s a really beautiful sign at that. This morning, through a partnership with Slow Food USA, Lead Teacher Mark Buttner and two preK classes celebrated the unveiling. At about five feet tall, the sign was provided by Slow...Continue reading
This week marks the conclusion of the 2013-14 year for Jersey City Public Schools. The last week of school is an opportunity to pause, reflect upon, and celebrate some of the highlights from the past ten months. JCPS serves nearly 30,000 school children through 39 schools that operate on a budget of over $650 million....
In my Abatement Series, I’ve discussed the basic premise of abatements, how they are funded, and the impact to conventional taxpayers. In this post I look at Mayor Fulop’s new tax abatement policy for Jersey City, which includes two notable components: Tiering System: A system of awarding abatements based on geographic location or project type1. Each “tier”...Continue reading
On Wednesday night, the City Council approved an 80-unit abatement in downtown Hamilton Park. Here are some of the specs on the property: located at 9th & Brunswick in downtown Hamilton Park a community the abatement will extend for 20 years contain 80 units, including 20 3-bedroom units and 35 2-bedroom units 1.88 kids from the building will attend the...Continue reading
The letter below was read into the City Council record on March 26, 2014 by Sarah Welt, a downtown mom with a child who is eligible for public pre-K this coming fall. Sarah has been instrumental in informing many parents in downtown about the PS 37 annex issue. Sarah waited five hours to speak during the public portion...Continue reading
In his 2010 report, “A Programmatic Examination of Tax Abatements,” NJ Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer highlighted numerous weaknesses with abatements. One issue he touched upon was transparency. He stated, “Information concerning abatement[s]…is not published in a transparent manner or centralized location, making it difficult to impossible for the public to compare, calculate the effect of,...Continue reading
A Jersey City parent who reviewed the Board of Education’s (BOE) two demographic studies asked that I share pertinent information from the studies as it relates to the pre-K facility issue. If you’re unfamiliar with that issue, this article in the Jersey City Independent provides background information. The Jersey City Public Schools (JCPS) has 28,000+...Continue reading