Cash-Poor Schools And The Magic Cap
Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at ending waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money in the state agency spending at least $8.6 billion building schools.“Cash-poor school districts covered by Abbott”? Under what possible definition can the Abbott school districts be considered cash-poor? Let’s look at a good example:
But even with Codey's signature, money to cash-poor school districts covered by the Abbott vs. Burke funding-equity case remained locked up as the state inspector general continues her work.
Newark City, an Abbott district, spends $714,095,883 on public schools for an average of $15,796 per student with 11.8 students per teacher.
84 % Funds from the state = $599,840,543
9 % Funds from Newark Property Taxes = $64,268,630
6% Funds from Federal Government = $42,845,753
1% Funds from Other = $ 7,140,959
Newark provides less than 10% of their school funding from property taxes and spends nearly $15,796 a year per student - and the Courier News wants you to believe the Abbott school districts are cash-poor? The only one’s cash-poor are the taxpayers in the non-Abbott school districts. (To be fair, the MSM usually refers to the Abbott schools in this manner, it's just not a Courier News misnomer.)
Why does Newark pay only 9% of the cost of its own public schools? The courts capped the maximum amount Newark is allowed to spend on its schools to the amount the city spent in 1991. Unfortunately, school performance in Newark hasn’t changed much since 1991 either.
This arrangement of course frees up Newark to spend the city’s revenue on such essential things as $210 million for an ice hockey arena and $36 million on a money losing minor league baseball stadium. (The people in Essex County got stuck with paying the debt service of $500,000 a year for the baseball stadium.)
Is there any incentive for Newark’s politicians and bureaucrats to spend money wisely, to hold down costs or fight waste, abuse and all manner of corruption surrounding public school spending? I think you know the answer. Absolutely none. And don’t think Newark is a unique example of an Abbott school district – the financials for each district may be found here.
Meanwhile people like Scott Raab and his wife, Lisa Brennan who live in Glen Ridge, New Jersey are upset because their son’s class has 27 students. With average property taxes of $14,100, Glen Ridge taxpayers pay 91% of the town’s public school costs. Average cost per pupil? $10,078.
Now back to that $8.6 billion for school construction Codey is trying to protect from waste, fraud and abuse. How’s that money being allocated to New Jersey’s School Districts?
The construction fund includes $6 billion for spending in the Abbott districts. DeMarco said that money is "not 'frozen' frozen" but rather must be approved by Cooper [the state's new Inspector General] before it can be expended.Yes, that’s right the $8.6 billion that was supposed to fund all the Abbott school construction needs and a bit for other school districts - it's all gone and the state has not even completed half of the scheduled projects.
"It's a step in the right direction, and it comes none too soon," said Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Lebanon. "That bonded money has now been spoken for, the $8.6 billion. ... Not all of it has been spent, but it has been spoken for. I do not believe the Legislature will permit a second round of bonding without making sure the system is without questions."
How’d that happen? Same incentive system, the Abbott school districts don’t pay toward the construction of their schools.
And today Steve Wynn opened the second most expensive hotel in the world, the Wynn Las Vegas, with a price tag of $2.7 billion. (The second link offers a better description of the hotel.)
Our best hope - separation of school and state. Our next best hope – vote for Bret Schundler. Looking to make matters worse – vote for Jon Corzine.