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 and...Continue reading
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. Some...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
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 onlinehere. ...Continue reading
This is part of a series on the 2021 city budget. See the full series here. The 2021 budget documents are online here. In this post I want to look at the proposed 2021 Jersey City budget using three questions as a launch point: How is the budget broken down? Has the budget ever been...
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
The Board of Education (BOE) nearly shut down “remote” public comment last week and it’s worth explaining what happened, simply to highlight how important it is for the district and board to improve transparency and communication – both internally but also with the public. “Remote” public comment is calling into a public meeting and sharing...Continue reading
Yesterday, Jersey City taxpayers received initial news that the 2021 municipal budget would “cut taxes for Jersey City residents by an average reduction of $967 a year for every household.” The city’s press release is here, currently the only primary information we have (the actual budget file – typically 50+ pages and loaded onto the...
How does my town's tax rate compare to the state average? Where does most of my property tax go - the city, the county, or the schools? How much is my town's taxable real estate ("ratables") worth? These are all reasonable questions and each year, the state publishes data that can answer them. I'm layering...Continue reading
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 extra...Continue reading
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 that...Continue reading
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 data...
This post is meant to help a taxpayer get a jump-start on determining: is my property over-assessed? This post is not intended to cover all nuance that may arise for a particular taxpayer. Nuance abounds, which is why I’ve provided links to the state rules and public data. If you are a homeowner than you...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
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 keeping...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
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 are...Continue reading
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 data...Continue reading
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 2017/18....Continue reading
I’ve been getting asked about my thoughts re: the Board of Education election. I wanted to offer two insights that matter to me from a funding and advocacy perspective. Take it or leave it; every vote is sacrosanct and reflects myriad personal considerations. These are two factors that matter most to me and I'm sharing...Continue reading
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 with...Continue reading
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 the...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
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...Continue reading
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 in...Continue reading
This is part of a series about the User Friendly Budget. This is a relatively short post to lay out what’s in the User Friendly Budget. I also want to share some of how I think this file can be used by taxpayers and advocates. As I explained in the first post in this series,...Continue reading
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 collects...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. ...
Jersey City’s Board of Education took a huge step forward, following Superintendent Walker’s courageous lead to invest in Jersey City Public Schools. I didn’t write up a post specific to this but am sharing the NJ.com article below that explain the vote. Also providing a visual – shared from Jersey City Together – that shows...Continue reading
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
PS #5 PTA Campaign: Tell the Board of Education: Approve the 2020/21 Schools Budget - Invest in Jersey City's Kids The PTA Advocacy Team at Dr. Michael Conti PS #5 School created this "Call to Action" email campaign ahead of the final vote for the 2020/21 schools budget season that we can share with the...
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
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 can...Continue reading
In February 2020 the City Council introduced its 2020 budget (the city has typically approved the annual budget only in the summer / Quarter 3 timeframe — I don’t know the reason for the lag, only that the lag exists). Upon release of the budget, I converted the PDF into Excel and then uploaded to...
To help taxpayers access the annual city budget, I've visualized it the 2019/20 proposed budget in Tableau, a data visualization software. Tableau puts the power of analysis in the user's hands; my hope is that YOU will dig into this budget data and feel empowered to engage, or perhaps more fully engage, the annual budgeting...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
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 Eliminations"...Continue reading
This is a timeline of stories published or shared on CivicParent as it relates to funding of Jersey City Public Schools:
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 are...Continue reading
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