"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Biggest News In New Jersey Property Tax Reform

While most reports about the Special Legislative Session findings have concentrated on a plan to offer a 20 percent property tax credit to “some” homeowners, the proposal that will have the largest impact on school districts and taxpayers is largely being overlooked.

The Joint Committee recommends that a new school aid formula be developed based upon the nationally-recognized professional judgment panels (PJP) model.
The professional judgment model was employed by Augenblick, Palaich, & Associates (APA), the Denver-based consulting firm hired by the New Jersey Department of Education to “cost out” public school financing requirements. The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association describes the professional judgment model used by the state as follows:

The Professional Judgment Panel method focuses on the development of educational goals and the construction of theoretical prototype school districts. Education professionals are then asked to identify the resources needed to meet the specified educational goals.
Eric Hanushek, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University writes in The Alchemy of “Costing Out” an Adequate Education:

“Costing out studies” should be interpreted as political documents, not as scientific studies.

They are incapable of providing the guidance that is sought, because they do not provide an objective and reliable answer of the cost of meeting educational standards.

When there are no accepted scientific standards for their conduct, when there are few empirical restraints, when they cannot be replicated by others, and when there is no requirement for consistency across applications, it should come as little surprise that the estimates please the party who has purchased them.
Hanushek says a much more accurate name for the professional judgment model is the “educators’ wish list model”. The new school district formula developed for New Jersey is a wish list for more state spending combined with a political agenda. The Augenblick study provides the state with cover to slash and practically eliminate state aid for many school districts, to spend $1 billion more in favored communities and to maintain spending for Abbott school districts at 30 percent above parity with the “wealthy” districts.

For example, Cherry Hill Township currently receives $14,992,420 in state aid for education. New Jersey’s professional judgment “costing out” model concludes the school district is spending $9,416,293 too much. The Morris School District gets $7,553,645 in school property tax relief, but the study finds the district is overspending by $6,890,767. As Governor Jon Corzine said, “Anytime you change a formula, there are inevitably winners and losers.”

The Education Law Center has published the cost and funding information from the Augenblick study on its website. Here you can see what your school district spends and the amount deemed necessary under the recommended funding formula. To determine your school district’s average cost per student and the recommended spending per student, divide each figure by the district’s enrollment, which may be found here.

The chart below provides the summary level information based on actual spending as compared to the recommended funding (DOE Adequacy) for each New Jersey school district category.

Click to Enlarge

Amazingly the study concludes, the more a community relies on property taxes to fund its schools, the less the school district needs to spend per student. The less a community relies on property taxes and the less it contributes to the state’s property tax relief fund, the more the community needs to spend on education. We don’t need to tell you what will happen with your property taxes - because you’ve already figured out they won’t be going down.


At 5:41 PM, Blogger John Pangia said...

According to the chart [looking locally here in South Jersey] the city of Camden spends $110 million 'more' on education than we do here in Cherry Hill.

According to the chart, the city of Camden 'should' be spending $130 million 'more' than we do in Cherry Hill.

Population-wise, the two aren't that far apart. 80,000 people in Camden opposed to 70,000 in Cherry Hill.

So where does/will all that extra money go in Camden? Student-teacher ratio is already about the same, actually lower in Camden, 11/1 vs 12/1.

From the difference in money spent, an education in Camden should be superior, so why do we hear that it's not?

Something doesn't smell right here.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Camden has a student enrollment of 15,850 and Cherry Hill’s enrollment is 11,615. According to the new formula Camden needs to spend $740 more per student and Cherry Hill $811 less. That way Cherry Hill would be spending $9,855 per student and Camden $14,705 – a mere 49.2 percent more.

As Governor Jon Corzine said, “Anytime you change a formula, there are inevitably winners and losers.”

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous njcons said...

I can never foresee the education funding situation ending. As long as the cities have a larger population and the legislature needs to get re-elected, the raid on the treasury and lower, higher income population areas will continue. There is no reason for the more populated areas to vote out the politicians that keep bringing home the bacon.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Dino P. Crocetti said...

I think the only potential candidate for Governor in '09 who would make a sincere attempt at fixing this problem is Steve Lonegan. Unfortunately, I think he might be damaged by trying to make English the official language of Bogota.

Perhaps Chris Christie or Bret Schundler would show some resolve on this issue as well and Schundler's time has probably passed as well and as much as I like Tom Kean Jr. I think he needs to lay low until Bob Menendez's Senate seat is up for grabs again in 2012.

It's slim pickins for us Republicans.

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous calpernia said...

>>>Unfortunately, I think he might be damaged by trying to make English the official language of Bogota.<<<<

Actually, Steve Lonegan only tried to add that as a public question for voting on the ballot.

Odd how people weren't permitted to vote on whether they wanted to have English as an official language.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Dino P. Crocetti said...

It's a real shame. Everyday, more and more people are being denied fundamental rights by the judicial system.

On a statewide level I think Steve Lonegan is exactly what we need to fix Trenton and if he were to run in the '09 Primary I would support him all the way. I just don't have faith in the intelligence of New Jersey voters.

All a Democrat(presumably Corzine) would have to do is beat him over the head with the English issue, spend 40 million dollars doing so and people will fall for it hook line and sinker.

All Bob Menendez had to do to keep his past from costing him the election was say, "Bush is Bad, Iraq is Bad".

It's a sad state of affairs to say the least.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger JoanBasil said...

I read recently that the median home price in Camden is something like $46,000. There really are 2 New Jerseys. But why is that? Its not because we aren't paying enough taxes. Same for poor schools in those areas.

At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Timothy said...

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