June 26th: Tell the Jersey City City Council to #FundOurSchools

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

PS #5 PTA School Funding Advocacy Action!

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 add […]

NJ School Funding Basics: The Tax Levy

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 […]

NJ School Funding Basics: The Tax Base

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, […]

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, […]

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 […]

NJ Property Tax Dashboard | #OpenData #DataViz

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Jersey City Funding Crisis: Banked Cap, Explained

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 […]

Fulop Era Abatements Approved from 2013 to 2016

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 […]

JCPS Funding: How JCPS Spends Its Money…A High Level Primer

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 […]

JCPS Funding: Why Possible State Aid Cuts = “Major Hardship”

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. […]

Mapping Jersey City’s Abatements by Project Type and Ward

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 […]

Civic & Education Awesomeness in Jersey City: PS #5’s “Air Fresheners”

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, […]

Jersey City PILOTs Rob Funding from the School System

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 […]

Mayor Fulop: Please Stop Politicizing Our Public Schools

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 […]

Mapping Abatements in Jersey City

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 […]

Tax Abatements 601: Brighter Sunshine Mandated for NJ Abatements

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 […]

Sustainability, Community, and that Beautiful Sign at PS #3

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 […]

Jersey City Public Schools: 2013-14 Year in Review

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. […]

Abatements 501: A Critique of Mayor Fulop’s “Buy Up” Abatement Policy

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” […]

What Does 1.88 Students Look Like?

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 […]

Tax Abatements 401: The Transparency Issue

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, […]

JCPS Demographic Study: Pertinent Facts re: Classroom Space

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+ […]