Two weeks ago the Jersey City Board of Education, by a vote of 5-4, passed a slightly lower 2022-2023 school budget of $973.8 million, raising property taxes on the average homeowner by $1,611 a year instead of the originally proposed $2,400. Mayor Steve Fulop was none-too-pleased, calling the tax hike “unconscionable, although he knows the need for increases in local funding for schools is because the district was previously overaided.
So the Mayor decided to let it all hang out on his Facebook page.
Read on, but first a few qualifications:
- School district annual budgets are typically more than municipal ones. For example, the budget for the city of Newark is about $107 million. The budget for Newark Public School District is about $1.2 billion.
- In Jersey City, as in much of NJ, municipal politics and school board politics are interwoven; there’s a reason they call us the “Soprano State.” While Mayor Fulop is lambasting the city School Board he is simultaneously courting teacher union dollars for his prospective gubernatorial run. Bridget Harrison of Montclair State: “Fulop has to believe that the teacher’s association can be an important ally if he decides to run for governor.”
- The cost per pupil in Jersey City is not “31k,” as Fulop says. According to the Taxpayer’s Guide to Education Spending, it’s about $17,000. Yet he’s right that the Jersey City Education Association has a sweet deal.
- Don’t forget that Fulop badly wanted the city to vote to move from an elected school board to a mayoral-appointed one. He lost that fight.
- Helpful tip from a former school board member: it’s a bad look in the midst of a budget crisis for seven school district officials to spend $20,000 on a jaunt to San Diego.
Here’s Mayor Fulop’s full comments:
To better understand this issue I’m asking for you to please read this article before commenting.
I’m all for great school options but I’m also for accountability on dollars. For the last 3 years the BOE has raised taxes on residents and it is a fair question with regards to what are they investing the money in. They have made statements every year about where those dollars would go and the reality is that the new tax money didn’t go there.
Jersey City residents will see a $2500 average tax increase from the Board of Education this year on the average home and in many cases this will be passed along to renters as the NJ laws provide very little protection. The BOE is an independent elected board that the city has no oversight over but it doesn’t change our frustration.
At this point the school budget is $300 million MORE than the entire city’s budget.
At this point the JCPS is paying $31k to educate a child (amongst the most in the country) for a system that is largely failing by state and federal standards.
At this point per NJ.com the average salaries in the Jersey City school system are $20k higher than the state average.