Jersey City Public Schools Staffing Shortage: A data-driven view from Board Docs

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...

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Jersey City’s 2021 Municipal Budget — A postscript…and some closing notes around transparency & process improvement

This is a quick update to my 2021 municipal budget series which I wrote this summer based on the budget introduced in June 2021. On August 31st 2021, the city council approved the budget in its final form with some changes. I wanted to briefly summarize those changes and also close the series with...

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Improving accountability and transparency for Jersey City Public Schools

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...

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Jersey City 2021 Budget: A focus on expense (including: structural expense is up $13 million this year)

This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. The spirit of this series is: I’m interested in unpacking the budget and sharing as I go. In that same spirit, I’m sharing interactive Tableau data visualizations that help others dig into the budget. See the full series here. The 2021 budget documents are online here. ...

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Jersey City 2021 Budget: A focus on revenues (including how the city is achieving a property tax cut)

This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. The spirit of this series is: I’m interested in unpacking the budget and sharing as I go. In that same spirit, I’m sharing interactive Tableau data visualizations that help others dig into the budget. See the full series here. The 2021 budget documents are...

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Jersey City 2021 Budget: 160 abatements on city’s books; visualizations on abatement type, value, PILOTs, and taxes if billed in full

This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. The spirit of this series is: I’m interested in unpacking the budget and sharing as I go. In that same spirit, I’m sharing interactive Tableau data visualizations that help others dig into the budget. See the full serieshere. The 2021 budget documents are...

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In one chart: Jersey City’s seismic change in tax levies fully funds the schools and reallocates property tax

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...

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NJ’s “Cost Per Pupil” is a flawed comparison of school district cost.

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...

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The Board of Education Should Approve Superintendent Walker’s Schools Budget & Fully Fund Our Schools

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...

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CivicParent NJ Property Tax Viewer: 2020 Levies

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...

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Jersey City Schools Parent Advocacy Update: Connect with Jersey City Together

COVID19 remote learning is extremely challenging. It's important to note that some challenges are exacerbated by chronic underfunding of Jersey City Public Schools. For instance, our schools lack: social workers crisis intervention teachers psychologists math & literacy coaches Teachers, paras, and remaining staff are left to absorb much of this work in addition to...

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Abatements 801: We need better abatement disclosures in NJ to show impact on public schools

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...

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Abatements 701 & The “User Friendly Budget”, part 5 – Abatements (with a Jersey City Focus)

Note: the visualizations below are best viewed on a computer or tablet (vs a phone). Jersey City recently announced it was terminating an abatement on four buildings within the Beacon complex. The reason: “ownership defaulted on an obligation to retain and present employee records, city officials announced.” This is a good reminder that abatements...

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CivicParent NJ Property Tax Viewer – 2019 Levies

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...

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Open Letter/Comments to Mayor Fulop & City Council: What is being done to pressure-test the need for another citywide revaluation?

Sharing an open letter and thoughts that I read into the record at the City Council meeting on Oct 7, 2020. I’m publishing it on CivicParent as part of a new area of content related to Jersey City’s increasingly outdated assessed values and the growing need for another revaluation. The last revaluation was in...

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Safely Reopening Our Schools in NJ: Understanding the Constraints of Fragmentation in the Garden State

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...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 4b: Public Health & Public Safety (with Focus on Police) Spending in the Garden State

This is a post in a series about NJ's User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town's UFB and...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 4a: View Your Town’s Structural Spending with the “UFB-3 Appropriations Summary” Data

This is a post in a series about NJ's User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town's...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 3: the “Cover Page”, an Inventory of NJ’s 565 Municipalities, & An Overview of How UFB Data was Compiled

This is a post in a series about NJ’s User Friendly Budget. My intent is to share basic analysis and insights with community as a way to encourage taxpayers to engage with this document and learn more about local public finance. Read the other posts in this series here including how to access your town’s...

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Open Letter re: Police Reform to the Mayor, City Council, Chief of Police and Public Safety Director

A Call to Action in Jersey City: Tell Mayor Fulop, the City Council, Chief Kelly, and Director Shea: We need reform NOW! The Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement (JCACM) has drafted this open letter with three concrete, initial demands for police reform in Jersey City.  They are calling on all residents who are interested...

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The “User Friendly Budget”, Part 1: Intro to the Series & How to Access the UFB

Five years ago, New Jersey began mandating that every municipality* in New Jersey file a “User Friendly Budget (UFB)” as part of the annual budgeting process. This file is “user friendly” for a few reasons: The data is aggregated in unique ways that help us see the structural nature of how the city both...

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Jersey City School Tax Expense Calculator for 2020/21 School Funding Year

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’...

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What Investing in Jersey City Public Schools Looks Like for 2020/21

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....

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Jersey City Public Schools 2020/21 Budget Process: Working Timeline & FAQs

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. ...

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Value & Empower Our Public Schools By Locally Funding Them in the 2020 Schools Budget

Helpful Tips: Thank you to the PTA of Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School for this information & advocacy. We are asking all concerned parents, residents, and taxpayers who care about our public schools to send an email to the Board of Education and Superintendent Walker to demand that Jersey City #FundOurSchools. The Superintendent...

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Why the School Tax Levy is Key to Funding JCPS (and why seeking abatement funds is not a concrete solution).

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...

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A Closer Look at Jersey City’s School Tax Rate. Part 2: Statewide Comparisons & the Role of the Tax Base

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...

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A Closer Look at Jersey City’s School Tax Rate, Part 1: the Public Data

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...

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PS #5 PTA Fall 2019 Email Campaign: No more “efficiency cuts” – What’s the long-term plan to fund our schools?

Why do the class sizes keep growing? Why did my child's "special" - art - get cut? Why aren't there any working fountains with potable water? Why did the BOE cut my math support teacher? Because: these are examples of "efficiency eliminations" - what the BOE needs to cut to balance its budget. "Efficiency...

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PS #5 Email Campaign #6: JCPS is Not Fully Funded…City Must Help #FundOurSchools

The PTA Advocacy Team at Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School created this email campaign to keep the pressure on school officials, City Council, and Mayor Fulop as they determine next year's budget in the lead-up to the Monday August 5th City Council meeting.   I am sharing on CivicParent to help spread the word...

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The Clock is Ticking…What’s the Plan to #FundOurSchools?

Sharing...from the Dr. Michael Conti School PS #5 PTA Advocacy Team It's July and the Clock is Ticking...What's the Plan to #FundOurSchools? July 2019...School is less than 2 months away. Tell City Council:   The Clock is Ticking...What's the Plan to #FundOurSchools?     Jersey City's school funding crisis is NOT yet resolved. There...

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