Effective Property Tax Rates
Selected Crime Statistics
NJ Legislative District Databook 1994 (Databook)
ACNJ Kids Count, 1994
NJ Department of Treasury, Division of Taxation
Uniform Crime Reports, l993
- Only 25 of the 62 communities have "non-partisan" forms of elections, with most municipalities choosing Mayor or Committee/Commission headed forms. There are only 8 communities with Council Manager (either 1923 or OMCL), referred to as "professional managers" at the head. This means that decision making is largely in the hands of elected officials.
- Depending upon the rating source, the 62 communities have credit ratings which range from AA (N=3) to Baal or Baa (N=26). This may impact the rates at which the communities could borrow money, and what rates they would pay on the money.
- Our communities range in size from Newark (N=267,848 population) to Wildwood (N=4,425). We have communities which have enjoyed growth over the l980's (N=31) ranging from 0.2% in Roselle to 66% in Winslow. It can generally be said that the growth is occurring in the south and in the urban/suburban locations.
- Likewise, we have communities which have lost population over the l980's (N=31) ranging from -0.3% in Garfield to -20.6% in Hoboken. What is interesting is that although one-half of our communities have declining populations, they do NOT necessarily have declining school enrollments.
- The state average population over 65 years old is 13.4%. In our communities, 53% have a higher percentage of population over 65. What we see is the classic picture of urban America-old people who can not leave and young people who are in the K-12 schools.
- The state average population percentage who are college graduates is 24.9%. Only 6 of our communities reach the state average, with most fully 10% points lower. Our communities are not well educated.
- The state average number of Blacks per community is 13.4%. 60% of our communities are above that percentage, some as high as 89.9% (East Orange). The state average number of Hispanics per community is 9.6%. 48% of our communities are above that percentage, the highest being Union City at 75.6%. The state average for Asian populations is 3.5%. 26% of our Districts have Asian populations over the state average. What this points to is the twin issues of wide spread diversity among the populations, and, the environment for higher levels of conflict.
- The per capita income average for the state is $18,714. Only five of our communities had average per capita incomes over the state average. These communities are largely poor.
- The average number of persons covered by AFDC per 1000 in New Jersey was 17.1. 69% of our communities have rates higher than this. When this figure is advanced as a percentage of the district student population, one finds over one-half of the districts having one-fourth or more of their students on AFDC (or eligible).
- Information found in the tables regarding children's health for a number of our larger communities (N=19), also presents a solemn picture of need. In very few categories do we see our communities being higher than the state averages in terms of
Low birth weight
No prenatal care
Children AFDC/per 1,000
Children Food Stamps/per l,000
Births to teens/per l,000 teens
Child Death Rates/per 10,000
Teen Death Rates/per 10,000
State Average Relationship
- One indicator of "urbanness" is the density of the population. In the most densely populated state, among our communities we have only 7 communities which are less dense than the state average of l,054 persons per square mile. It is our range that is particularly startling:
under l,000 per square mile
l,000-5,000 per square mile
5,00l-10,000 per square mile
10,001-15,000 per square mile
over 15,000 per square mile
These figures are important not only in terms of resource needs, but also the urban phenomenon of "crowding" which leads to reduced motivations, increased hostility, and increased violence. It is also directly related to "turf" fights which characterize gang behavior.
- The common myth about property taxes is that it is the school district budget which counts for the highest percentage of the tax rate. What one finds when looking at our districts is slightly different: 19 (31%) of our communities have a higher local purpose tax than a school tax. What does this mean? There are several hypothesis:a. the community does not support education
b. the cost of "local government" is higher in major cities due to increase cost for social services (local), housing (local), paid fire departments, and higher salaries for police
c. the impact of voter approval of budgets between Type l and Type II districts
d. the impact of state aid as a percentage of budget
This relationship should be noted as new funding formulas are developed and as state appropriations to school districts decline.
- Of equal interest is the myth that there are lower tax rates in urban areas. A full 76% of our districts are taxing for schools at a rate higher than the state average of l.l5. The issue is, of course, that lack of real property value upon which this rate is applied. It does NOT indicate a lack of willingness, however, to pay for education as potentially suggested above.
School structural overview
Race, Ethnicity and Gender
Grade 8 early warning tests, 1994
HSPT Test, 1994
School Budget Data, l994
Analysis of Regular Education data
for Special Needs and I and J
Distribution of Computers within
29 districts (self-reported)
Public Affairs Research Institute
New Jersey Department of Education
Education Law Center
Challenge Grant, 1995
- To an even greater degree than the municipal governments themselves, our districts represent more "politically" oriented units. Only 10 (16%) of our districts are Type I (meaning they have Boards appointed by the City Council and no voter approval of budgets). The rest are Type 2 were the Boards are elected (hence, with their own agendas and constituencies which may or may not reflect the political agenda of Council) and where voters approve the budgets.
Of course three of our districts are state controlled so they have neither type of Board. The reader may also be aware that the issue of who appoints the school board became a major issue in the takeover of Newark. This issue may also impact the willingness of the mayors and Council's to support and work cooperatively with the school districts. It may be also of interest to recognize that although it might be possible to appoint more "educationally knowledgeable" persons to School Boards in a Type 1 district, history would not indicate that is the case. The issue is best seen, then, as the degree and nature of conflict.
- The Department of Education uses a formula called a District Weighing Factor (DFG) to determine the relative wealth of a unit. This is based, in part, on the old Department of Community Affairs formula for "distressed cities". Within our group, when comparing the "old" ratings with the new ones developed in l990, we found a depressing story. 50% of the districts declined in their DFG.
- A careful analysis of the community demograpahics compared to the school district demographics will show that often in our districts the schools have a much larger minority population than would be dictated as a percentage of the total community population. This situation is acute when it comes to teachers and administrators--very few minority teachers and administrators in comparison to their student numbers. This is a MAJOR problem for urban districts.
- Our districts are, for the most part, self-contained units. We do have several K-6 or K-8 districts (N=5) which send their students to a regional high school. We also have at least one receiving district.
- The special needs districts are required to go through an annual monitoring review of their operations. We find that
Certified 13 Conditionally Certified 1 Level l 3 Level 2 5 Level 3 1 State Operated 3 26
This pattern may come as a surprise to people who tend to lump all the urban districts together as "poor performing".
- The State Per Pupil spending average is $8560. In our districts fully 17 (27%) spend above that level. And it might be of interest to the reader to see the spending levels for the State Takeover Districts:
Jersey City $ 8,315
Newark $ 10,700
- Although most of our districts are K-12 self-contained, we do have several special arrangements including
K-8 2They send their students to regional high schools which should also be invited to take part in this effort. Likewise, we have at least one receiving district.
- Our districts represent 35% of the total student population in the state, but our districts receive 61% of the total state aid.
- There is a high level of debate over the issue of drop out levels. When using the Department of Education method, we find our district range from 39% to 98%. When we look at the numbers from the cohort method suggested by Joan Ponessa of PARI and Phil Burch of RU, we find these figures to be significantly lower. Likewise, the current school report card also has some disputes over both the drop out figure and the scores on the HSPT.
- Another way to look at the issue of student achievement would be to examine the HSPT test scores. In the 1994 group, our districts had a wide range of achievements:
Range of Passing Scores Reading 27.6%---90.5%
Writing 19.0%---72.7%All students must pass the HSPT to graduate.
- Finally we have enclosed some tables which were developed for the 1995 Challenge Grant for Technology. While we know that these figures are not current (and not accurate), it will give the reader some idea of how we derived the figures used in the overall CARN plan.
New Jersey Overall
New Jersey Rankings PARI (from a variety of federal sources)
- The bottom line of many of the educational comparisons is that New Jersey spends a great deal of money on education. Is it because of the small size of districts overall? the large enrollments?
- One table which always surprises people in New Jersey is the fact that while we are the 3rd highest total (state and local) spending state on education per capita, when that is taken against the wealth of the state (as a measure of per $1,000) we drop to 26th. Likewise, when you look at revenues from specific sources, we are 16th overall in terms of local districts, 32 from state government, and 49th in federal funds.
What this would indicate is that while we spend a lot of money on schools, we could afford to spend more and shift the spending away from local sources.
- So what are driving the costs of education in New Jersey?
National Ranking number of school buses
(although we are 20th in
terms of students transported
at public expense)
pupil/teacher ratio 1st teacher salaries 4th (average $44,693)