Jersey City: Who in City Council & the NJ State Legislature Represents Your School?

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

JCPS Funding 201: 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 … Read more

Jersey Journal Op-Ed Highlights PILOT vs. Public Schools Tension in Jersey City

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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. … Read more

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 … Read more

A Concerned Parent Addresses City Council re: Classroom Shortage in Jersey City

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 … Read more

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, … Read more

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+ … Read more

Civic Hacking with Open JC

Buckle up, Jersey City…the express train towards more transparent government is leaving the station…and its name is Open JC. Open JC Founded in November 2013 by local residents Anna Lukasiak and Stephen Musgrave, Open JC hit the ground running with its Facebook page, meet up group, and website, inviting anyone with an interest in open data, open source, and … Read more

Tax Abatements 101: A Basic Overview

Mayor Fulop signed his abatement policy into effect by executive order on December 24, 2013.  The policy was a clear departure from his campaign pledge, which included the promise to allocate abatement revenue to a “dedicated, non-discretionary account for education funding.”  This prompted me to question: how effective is the new abatement policy, and what impact will it have … Read more

News Flash: JCPS is now on Twitter! (@jcps_district)

I’m a big believer in getting civic, and a big part of getting civic is tuning-in to your local community.  Once you start tuning in, your confidence to provide feedback and become part of the conversation grows, and then a virtuous cycle of community and civic partnership is born.  But oftentimes, tuning-in can seem impossible, especially … Read more

Jersey City Public Schools: Year in Review, 2013

Last night at 6pm, inside Martin Luther King, Jr. (PS 11) school on Bergen Avenue, three new members of Jersey City’s Board of Education (“BOE”) and one incumbent member were sworn into office.  The Board of Education is the governing body over the City’s 35+ public schools, which serve more than 28,000 students each year on … Read more

Let’s Get Civic

The genesis of CivicParent.org…. I live in Jersey City and on November 14, 2013 I learned that Mayor Fulop’s first abatement – the 3 towers planned for Journal Square – would not include dedicated funding for Jersey City public schools.  I also learned that five City Council members, all of whom were Fulop-endorsed candidates,  approved … Read more