Corzine’s School Spending: Adequate Spending Per Student
Here’s the spending schedule the governor has proposed for next year:
Corzine’s plan uses economic status as a proxy for students “at-risk” as opposed to achievement test results which specifically identifies those students who truly are “at-risk”.
Under the governor’s plan, adequate spending remains unchanged for a student testing below grade-level if he or she is from a so-called “economically advantaged” family. However, a student from a low-income family is automatically considered “at-risk”, requiring 47 to 57 percent in additional spending, even if he or she has proven to be proficient or advanced through testing.
Clearly, the governor’s auto-pilot plan is not the best way to determine school spending needs and allocate scarce resources. It’s not geared to student achievement or school accountability and it’s certainly not equitable.
Corzine’s proposal is an expansion of the failed Abbott school distinct model. A spending model he told the New Jersey Supreme Court had no correlation to student achievement.
“Abbott districts have been spending at some of the highest levels in the State, and well beyond non-Abbott districts, with no discernable correlation to improved achievement.”As Department of Education Commissioner Lucille Davy said:
“We need to figure out why we are not getting the outcomes. It's clearly not a matter of resources."
Despite years of evidence that this spending model does not produce results, the Corzine administration proposes more of the same and calls it the “New Formula for Success".
The plan should be rejected by citizens and lawmakers - it’s a formula for more spending and higher taxes. It has no correlation to a plan for public school education success.
Corzine’s School Aid Plan: State Aid Does Not Follow the Child
Whether a child goes to school in Perth Amboy or Mountain Lakes makes no difference.It just doesn’t happen to be true. State aid does not “follow the child” under Governor Jon Corzine’s proposed plan. Spending and state aid are totally dependent upon where the child goes to school.
The premise is that money should follow the child. It's hard to argue with that.
Under Corzine’s proposal, the Perth Amboy school district will receive $11,098 in equalized state aid for one child. If that same child attends school in Mountain Lakes, the district would receive $0 in equalized state aid.
Perth Amboy would no longer receive $11,098 in aid for the child, but the district would no longer bear the cost of educating that student. Mountain Lakes, on the other hand, would have to spend money to educate the child, but would receive no state aid for the student. Cost followed the child, not state aid.
There are two reasons for this. Under Corzine’s plan, both adequate spending per student and “local fair share” vary based upon school district.
Equalized state aid is the difference between adequate spending minus “local fair share”.
Equalized state aid = Adequate district Budget - Local Fair ShareAid per student is very dependent on “local fair share” and can range from 0 to nearly100 percent of adequate spending per student.
Two districts can have identical adequate school budgets, but very different “local fair share” contributions. The greater a district’s “local fair share”, the lower state aid will be.
“Local fair share” is based upon the value of real estate within a school district and the income of its residents. So there is little likelihood two districts will have identical “local fair share” contributions based on the proposed formula.
Local Fair Share = (District’s Equalized Property Valuation x 0.0092690802 X .0.50) + (Districts Aggregate Income x 0.04546684 x .0.50)Clearly, state aid can not follow a student because it will be different in each school district a child might attend. That’s excluding, of course, 184 school districts where equalized state aid for the student will be the same, $0.
Corzine’s School Aid Plan: “Local Fair Share”
The proposed aid formula begins by calculating each school district’s adequate budget and “local fair share” contribution.
A district’s adequate budget is established by the State through a formula based upon student enrollment and demographics. It is the amount the State deems adequate to provide a thorough and efficient education to the district’s students
“Local fair share” is the total amount of property taxes the State deems a district should contribute towards its adequate school budget.
The difference between a school district’s adequate budget and its “local fair share” is the amount a district would receive in “equalized state aid”.
Equalized state aid = Adequate district Budget - Local Fair Share
Corzine’s proposed school spending and state aid plan is grossly unfair and should be rejected by state legislators. Here’s one more reason why.
Each district’s “local fair share” is calculated as follows:
(District’s Equalized Property Valuation x 0.0092690802 X .0.50) + (Districts Aggregate Income x 0.04546684 x .0.50)
A district’s equalized property valuation is the total value of the real estate property in the district as certified by the state’s Director of the Division of Taxation. A district’s aggregate income is the total income as reported by taxpayers on New Jersey State Income Tax forms.
The “local fair share” formula is heavily weighted to income and is especially advantageous to those districts with many property owners not living in the school district and therefore, not reporting income attributable to the district. One major example, nonresidential property used for business.
Keep in mind, “local fair share” is just the combined “fair share” of every property owner in a school district. Here’s an example of the formula’s gross inequity.
Two districts, District #1 and District #2, have the same state-established adequate school budget and the same total equalized property value.
In District #1, property owner A’s real estate is valued at $500,000 and he has an income of $100,000. His property is in District #1 and because he lives in the district, his $100,000 income is included in the formula.
Property Owner A’s Fair Share:
($500,000 x 0.0092690802 X .0.50) + ($100,000 x 0.04546684 x 0.50) =
$2,317.27 + $4,546.68 =
Fair Share = $6,863.95
In District #2, property owner B’s real estate is also valued at $500,000 and he has an income of $300,000. His property is in District #2, but because he lives outside the district, his income is zero in the formula.
Property Owner B’s Fair Share
($500,000 x 0.0092690802 X .0.50) + ($0 x 0.04546684 x 0.50) =
$2,317.27 + $0 =
Fair Share = $2,317.27
Property owner A’s “local fair share” reduces District # 1’s equalized state aid by $6,863.95. Property owner B’s “local fair share” reduces District # 2’s aid by only $2,317.27.
Clearly, Corzine’s “fair share” formula is terribly unfair to districts with a high percentage of property owner A types and few type B’s. Of course, Corzine would probably say “that’s not a bug in the formula, it’s a feature”.
Remember, every dime in state school aid comes from the state's income tax. That’s another element of “fare share” that’s missing.
Corzine’s School Spending Plan: Base Per Pupil Amount Unrealistic
Taking first things first. The most basic plan assumption is the base per pupil amount of $9,649. This is the adequate cost per student upon which the Governor’s entire school spending and state aid plan is calculated. If this number is unrealistic, and it is, than the entire plan is impractical. Here’s why
The State engaged “professional judgment panels” to determine the resources needed to provide a thorough and efficient education for New Jersey’s public school students. The panels came up with costs based upon school type - elementary, middle and high school – and district size – very small, small, moderate, large and very large. The panels determined larger school districts should have greater economies of scale and therefore, lower costs than smaller districts.
However, Corzine’s proposal uses only the large K-12 district cost model to determine the base per pupil amount. The plan then assumes the adequate spending for an elementary school student is equal to the base cost; the cost for a middle school student is 4 percent more than the base cost and for a high school student, 17 percent more than base cost.
The panels established that a large school district is one with an enrollment between 4,000 and 8,000 students. The State then established an adequate cost of $9,649 for an elementary school student, $10.035 for a middle school student and $11,289 for a high school student in large school districts.
Of the 615 school districts in the state, only 73 have enrollments between 4,000 and 8,000 students and 29 districts have more than 8,000 students. Four counties have not a single “large school district” - Cape May, Hunterdon, Salem and Warren. Clearly, the large school distinct cost model is not representative of the state’s school systems and yet, this is the model upon which Corzine’s proposal is entirely based.
Worse yet, there is not a single large or very large school district in the state currently spending at or below the per student costs established by the plan. There are only four large or very large districts currently with an average cost per student below the proposed high school student cost.
As shown by the chart below, the average cost per student is $14,204 for the 102 districts with enrollments of 4,000 and above - $2,915 more per student than the plan establishes for just high school students. Removing the 22 large or very large Abbott districts, with an average per student cost of $16, 521, reduces the average cost to $13, 081 per student - still well above the cost established in the plan just for high school.
Obviously, the large school district cost model isn’t even representative of the state’s large school districts upon which Corzine’s entire plan is based. The plan should be rejected for this reason alone – it’s not based on reality. The plan’s other key assumptions are even more seriously flawed as we shall prove in future posts.
New Jersey Cost Per Student
2007-2008 School Year
Large and Very Large School Districts
The “Simplified” Formula For Calculating Adequate Spending For New Jersey’s Public Schools.
Adequate Regular Education Student Cost
The cost per regular education student (RESC) is calculated as follows
RESC = base per pupil amount x grade weight
The base per pupil amount (BPA) is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and for the 2008-2009 school year will be $9,649. The BPA will be will be adjusted by the consumer price index (CPI) annually through the 2012-2013 school year.
The grade weight (GW) is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be:
Half-day kindergarten = 0.50
Full-day kindergarten = 1.0
Elementary (grades 1 through 5) = 1.0
Middle school (grades 6 through 8) = 1.04
High school (grades 9 through 12) = 1.17
Adequate School District Base Cost
The base cost (BC) for each school district is calculated as follows:
BC = (base per pupil amount) x (weighted enrollment for school district)
The weighted enrollment (WENR) for each school district is calculated as follows:
WENR = (0.5 x half-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x full-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x elementary enrollment) + (1.04 x middle school enrollment) + (1.17 x high school enrollment)
Adequate School District Budget
The adequacy budget (AB) for each school district is calculated as follows:
AB = (Base cost for school distinct + Low-income student cost + Bilingual student cost + Combination low-income bilingual student cost + Special education student cost) x Geographic cost adjustment.
Low-income Student Cost
Low-income student cost (ARC) is calculated as follows:
ARC = base per pupil amount of $9,649 x weighted enrollment of low-income students in the school district x low-income student weight
The low-income student weighted enrollment (ARWENR) for each school district is calculated as follows:
ARWENR = (0.5 x low-income half-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x low-income full-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x low-income elementary enrollment) + (1.04 x low-income middle school enrollment) + (1.17 x low-income high school enrollment)
The low-income student weight (ARW) is calculated as follows:
AWR = .047, if low-income students are less than 20% of district enrollment
AWR = ((low-income % - 0.20) x 0.25)) + 0.47, if low-income students are 20% or greater, but less than 60% of district enrollment
AWR = 0.57, if low-income students are 60% of district enrollment or greater
Bilingual Student Cost
The bilingual student cost (LEPC) is calculated as follows:
LEPC = base per pupil amount of $9,649 x weighted enrollment of bilingual students x bilingual student weight
The bilingual student weighted enrollment (LWENR) for each school district is calculated as follows:
LWENR = (0.5 x bilingual half-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x bilingual full-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x bilingual elementary enrollment) + (1.04 x bilingual middle school enrollment) + (1.17 x bilingual high school enrollment)
The bilingual student weight (LEP) weight is 0.5.
Low-income Bilingual Student Cost
The combination low-income, bilingual student cost (COMBC) is calculated as follows:
COMBC = base per pupil amount of $9,649 x weighted enrollment of combination low-income, bilingual student students x (low-income student weight + the combination low-income, bilingual student weight)
The weighted enrollment of combination low-income, bilingual students (CWENR) for each school district is calculated as follows:
CWENR = (0.5 x combination low-income bilingual half-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x combination low-income bilingual full-day kindergarten enrollment) + (1.0 x combination low-income bilingual elementary enrollment) + (1.04 x combination low-income bilingual middle school enrollment) + (1.17 x combination low-income bilingual high school enrollment)
The combination low-income bilingual student weight (COMB) is 0.125.
Special Education Student Cost
The special education student cost (SEC) is calculated as follows:
SEC = (district enrollment (RE) x the State average classification rate for special education students (SEACR) x excess cost for special education students (AEC) x 2/3) + (district enrollment (RE) x the State average classification rate for speech-only special education students(SACR) x excess cost for speech-only special education students (AECSO).
SEACR = The State average classification rate for special education students is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be 14.69 percent for all school districts..
AEC = the excess cost for special education students is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be $10,898 for all school districts.
SACR = the State average classification rate for speech-only special education students is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be 1.89 percent for all school districts.
AEC = the excess cost for special education students is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be $10,898 for all school districts.
AECSO = the excess cost for speech-only special education students is established by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be $1,082 for all school districts.
Geographic Cost Adjustment
The geographic cost adjustment (GCA) is developed by the New Jersey Department of Education and will be:
Atlantic County = 0.9452
Bergen County = 1.0312
Burlington County = 0.9613
Camden County = 0.9463
Cape May County = 0.8762
Cumberland County = 0.8818
Essex County = 1.0432
Gloucester County = 0.9189
Hudson County = 1.0393
Hunterdon County = 1.0156
Mercer County = 1.0087
Middlesex County = 1.0180
Monmouth County = 1.0170
Morris County = 1.0633
Ocean County = 0.9424
Passaic County = 0.9987
Salem County = 0.9189
Somerset County = 1.0608
Sussex County = 0.8966
Union County = 1.0298
Warren County = 0.9467
New Jersey Employment 2007
Government continues to be the fastest growing employment sector in the state, with 32 percent of new jobs created by state and local governments during 2007.
Total private sector employment increased by 45,100, state and local government employment grew by 20,800, while federal government employment in the state fell by 200, during the year.
New Jersey state government added 4,300 new jobs and local governments, 16,500.
Exposing Corzine’s School Spending and Aid Plan As Absurd and Unfair
For example, Corzine’s plan has established that Glen Rock in Bergen County should spend $12,489 per student. Yet, the same plan also proposes state aid of $18,755 per student for Pemberton Township in Burlington County. Both districts serve students K-12.
The Governor’s plan cranks out an average of $12,482 in state aid per student for all of Cumberland County, just $7 less than the state expects Glen Rock to spend per student.
Pork-laden and inequitable is how a fair-minded person would describe a plan that allocates $23,004 in state aid per student to Asbury Park and $866 to Glen Rock.
And don’t think Glen Rock is the only school district getting a raw deal – it’s one of hundreds. Look up you own distinct here.
How can Corzine keep a straight face and call this plan A Formula for Success for All Communities? Clearly, it’s a formula that will expand the failed Abbott school district model to more schools. It’s a formula for more government spending, higher taxes – state and property – and no accountability.
We keep waiting for someone with clout to demand Corzine release the total per student each school district will spend from all funding sources. (That would include the $1 billion in federal school aid the state will receive and distribute.) Common sense would dictate all funding sources be incorporated into the state’s school funding plan. Taxpayers have a right to know all the facts and the bottom line, but it’s not happening.
Democrats in Trenton are busy drafting legislation to enact Corzine’s plan, even before all the facts are known and the public has had a chance to understand it. The goal is to have this boondoggle passed into law before January 8. Obviously, Corzine is hoping to ram this though while few citizens are paying attention and before the new legislature is sworn in next year.
What are Republican and other sensible lawmakers doing to expose and stop this nonsense before it’s too late? What are you doing? We fear the answer is nothing.
Children’s Health Insurance Problem Solved – “Progressives” Discover Cost Shifting
Starting in January 2008, a new program will allow parents, at any income level with uninsured children, to buy into the FamilyCare program at the same rate Horizon Blue Cross-Blue Shield charges the state.
FamilyCare is currently comprised of Medicaid and SCHIP. Medicaid offers coverage for uninsured children from families with incomes up to 200 percent above poverty ($41,300 for a family of four). SCHIP offers coverage for uninsured children whose families earn up to 350 percent above the poverty line ($72,275 for a family of four). The new FamilyCare expansion plan will be available for all uninsured children regardless of family income.
As in the past, children enrolled in Medicaid will receive coverage at no cost to their parents and those covered by SCHIP will pay monthly premiums ranging from $18.50 to $125 a month, depending upon family income. The FamilyCare expansion plan will cost parents $137 a month for one child, $274 for two children or $411 for three or more kids – the same rate the state pays for SCHIP.
Today we noticed several people trying to downplay the fact that a federal expansion of SCHIP and taxpayer subsidies weren’t required to bring access to “quality, affordable healthcare insurance” to all New Jersey children. Interestingly, the topic of cost shifting has come up.
Blue Jersey’s Juan Melli in his post, Affordable Healthcare for Kids: How It's Done, points to an article in today’s New York Times and highlights this quote:
As many as 15,000 children who currently lack insurance could enroll in the program, which will take effect on Jan. 1. In contrast to comparable efforts in other states, the program would cost New Jersey nothing because Horizon, a nonprofit company, would absorb what Karen L. Clark, president and chief operating officer of the Horizon subsidiary Horizon NJ Health, said could be up to a $1 million loss in the first year.We also noticed Horizon’s CEO, Karen Clark, was quoted in today’s Star-Ledger:
Karen Clark, president and CEO for Horizon NJ Health, said the company is enthusiastic about the partnership, even though it expects it to be a money-loser that could cost $500,000 a year.Of course, Horizon, like any for-profit or nonprofit insurance company, can’t pay out more in claims than it receives in premiums. If the company expects to lose $500,000 to $1,000,000 on the NJ FamilyCare expansion plan, it will raise rates on other policy holders in order to achieve an overall breakeven.
Healthcare cost shifting is something we have been trying to explain for months to Blue Jersey’s resident “political scientist”, Thurman Hart - to no avail. Perhaps he and others will get it now that “progressives” have pointed out “how it’s done”.
If Horizon expects to lose, take the high-end of the estimate, $1,000,000, insuring 15,000 children at the state SCHIP rate of $137 per month, it will lose $66.67 annually per child. This means Horizon will also lose the same amount per child for those it covers under the SCHIP program. (New Jersey’s SCHIP currently covers 113,000 children.) To make up these losses, Horizon will raise rates on its private policy holders to ensure it takes enough in premiums to pay anticipated claims.
That’s called cost shifting and it happens under every government health insurance program. This is minor, only $5.56 per month, per child, comapred to other goverment programs. (A topic for another post.) But clearly, taxpayers are better off with this expanded FamilyCare arrangement than with a federal SCHIP expansion. All uninsured children, regardless of family income, will be eligible and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime more.
If Democrats in Congress had prevailed on their SCHIP expansion plans – New Jersey’s federal and state taxpayers would had to pay for it, fewer children would have been eligible and Horizon would still be raising rates on private policy holders to make up losses.
New Jersey Expands SCHIP– No Help From The Federal Government Or Taxpayers Required
After all the weeping and wailing by Democrats, it turns out an expansion of the SCHIP program by the federal government was unnecessary. It also turns out state and federal taxpayers don’t have to pony up extra dollars to make it happen.
The new program will allow parents at any income level who have no health coverage for their children to buy into the FamilyCare program at the same rate Horizon Blue Cross-Blue Shield charges the state: $137 a month for one child, $274 for two children or $411 for three or more kids.Good news like this doesn’t happen very often. It’s time to celebrate and pass the word.
Until now, FamilyCare has been open to children whose families earn up to 350 percent above the federal poverty line (for example, $72,275 for a family of four). State and federal funds subsidize the cost, so those with the lowest incomes receive free coverage while those earning 200 percent or more above poverty pay premiums ranging from $18.50 to $125 a month.
Inequity Continues To Grow Under New School Aid Plan
Newark, with an enrollment of 44,173 students, will receive $109.8 million more in aid than Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties combined, with an enrollment of 293,875 students.
Union City, with a student population of 9,759, will receive $25.6 million more in state aid than all of Somerset County with an enrollment of 54,798.
Despite the cries of Abbott school district advocates, Newark is slated to receive $310 in additional state aid per student next year and Union City $2,070 more per pupil. Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties combined will receive an aid increase of $261 per student.
In eight years, Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties' combined aid increase will be $546 per student, while Newark’s aid will have increased by $7,169 and Union City by $6,426 per student.
Assuming the Governor’s new school spending and aid plan is approved, state aid per student will be $1,867 for Bergen County, $2,266 for Hunterdon County, $2,139 for Morris County and $2,253 for Somerset County. State aid will be $15,793 per student for Newark and $15,267 for Union City.
The Governor’s aid figures do not include $18,586 per student the Abbott school districts will receive separately for pre-school. Last year, Abbott pre-school enrollment was 41,000.
The following chart compares the four New Jersey counties with the two Abbott school districts to show what’s happened with state aid since 2000. The state’s Abbott school districts achieved per student spending parity with the wealthiest school districts in 1997 and by 2000 the 31 school districts were spending more per student.
New Jersey State School Aid
2000 - 2008
Click to Enlarge
This second chart shows the proposed increase in state aid under Corzine’s proposal for the same four counties and two urban school districts.
Proposed Increases 2008
The Cost of Pre-School: It’s More Than You Imagine
The answer is about $18,586 for each three-to four-year old enrolled. According to a December 2007 report, The Cost of High-Quality Pre-School Education In New Jersey, it cost state taxpayers $723 million for 38,900 Abbott district pre-schoolers during the 2006-2007 school-year.
Funding for Abbott pre-school comes from two agencies: the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Human Services (DHS).The report warns current state funding may not be sufficient because “compensation for pre-school teachers may need to be increased”:
The DOE’s estimate of its total expenditures in 2006–07 is $501 million with DHS spending an additional $222 million.
First, the program requires a specific credential and must include professional development. Second, Abbott pre-school teachers in private settings receive less generous benefits than teachers in the public schools. Third, preschool teachers have less experience than the average teacher because the program is new; as these teachers gain experience the salary structure is such that their pay will increase. Finally, as the program expands, higher wages must be offered to attract more workers.The report’s conclusion:
Our cost analysis shows that current spending is somewhat—but not grossly—below what is needed.Not counting the cost of constructing new schools or classrooms to accommodate tens of thousands of additional students.
The above calculations assume no additional facilities costs.We’re talking quality, affordable – no, no that’s what they say about healthcare.
New Jersey’s Death Penalty
Corzine’s “New Formula for Success” Is A Formula For Wasteful Spending
The additional aid cranked out by Corzine’s new formula amounts to a $2,070 increase per student for Union City - whether or not the district actually needs the extra money. As recently as 2006, the district was proud of the fact that additional state aid was unnecessary. Union City was spending far less per student than many Abbott districts and was identified by the state as a school district of excellence.
Last year, Union City was touted as a successful Abbott school district during meetings of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public School Funding Reform. Union City’s superintendent of schools, Stanley Sanger gave a presentation about his school distinct which included the following 4 key points:
1. School district's demographics – 87 percent of students are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch and 97 percent of students come from homes where the dominant language in the home is not English.
2. Student achievement - In Grades 3, 4, 8, and 11, the distinct met or exceeded the State objectives in all areas, except one, special education (achievement for disabled students)
3. Additional Funding Requirements – The district has never found it necessary to apply for additional supplemental funding through Abbott aid.
4. Holding Down Costs - In the last several years, the distinct was able to reduce non-salaried costs, between 5 and 10 percent each year.
Now Union City can go a spending spree with an extra $20.2 million dollars from state taxpayers. If lawmakers suspected patronage hiring in Union City schools was a problem last year, just wait until next year.
And just imagine what’s going on in districts that will receive state aid at the rate of $17,000, $18,000, $19,000, all the way up to $23,000, per student. Who knows what total spending per student will be when all sources of funding– federal, state and local – are added up.
To place those aid levels in perspective, keep in mind that adequate per student spending for what the state now calls “regular education students” is $9,649 for elementary school, $10,035 for middle school and $11,289 for high school. That’s adequate spending per student, not adequate state aid per pupil.
You can forget about property tax relief if Corzine’s "New Formula for Wasteful Spending" is enacted. The Governor is looking to greatly expand a failed program that has already produced the highest property taxes in the nation and nearly bankrupted the state’s treasury.
Republicans Respond To Corzine’s School Spending Proposal With Facts
We also hope Republicans have plans to expose the false premises on which Governor Jon Corzine has based his adequate school spending and state aid proposals.
There’s a difference between property tax relief and fueling increased spending.
Facts About Corzine's School Funding Proposal
The proposal increases state spending by $532 million which state taxpayers will have to pick up - when our State budget is already so strained. It is a 7.3% increase in the $7.8 billion portion of the State budget dedicated to school aid. The increase will trigger higher State taxes or encourage the toll road gimmick.
Four Democrat machine counties (Hudson, Camden, Essex, and Middlesex) are getting larger increases than any other county in the entire State. These four counties receive increases of $210 million - almost half half the total funding increase.
Union City, with less than 70,000 residents, will get a $20 million increase in funding next year when there has been considerable evidence put forth in the last year about patronage and wasteful spending there. By way of reference, the $20 million increase in aid for Union City and its people is more than the combined increases for all of the 91 school districts and the nearly 1 million people in legislative districts 10 (Ocean), 11 (Monmouth), 39 (Bergen) and 40 (Bergen).
Even in some Republican areas where there appear to be spotty increases, such as district 12 in Monmouth County, the funding formula is still grossly unfair. Total school aid in for the 19 school districts in legislative district 12 will be $155 million - this compares to roughly the same amount ($149 million) just for Union City alone.
Places like Jersey City which exempt lots of property from paying anything at all in property taxes towards schools through sweetheart giveaways to builders, will receive an increase of $8 million - bringing their total aid to $419 million. They will be permitted to continue giving away sweetheart deals which exempt wealthy property owners from making payments to their own schools.
Corzine’s “New Formula For Success”: Forgo Property Tax Relief
The Governor has decided that students living in districts with certain demographics are entitled to spending that’s far above what he considers adequate for the middleclass. He has proposed a plan to make state taxpayers fund his vision at the expense of property relief.
Under the Governor’s new formula, students living in lower income districts are automatically considered to be “at-risk”, and so require 47 to 57 percent more spending per student.
Students living in areas with a high percentage of immigrants are automatically considered to be of limited English language proficiency (LEP) and therefore require a 50 percent boost in per student spending
Corzine has also determined that public school students living in lower income districts with a high percentage of immigrants should spend 60 to 70 percent more than the amount deemed adequate for educating a child from an average family.
The obvious question to these spending proposals is why? Why must we spend more to educate a student on the basis of demographics? How many teachers can stand in front of a classroom and teach at one time? And why must taxpayers forgo property tax relief to fund this obvious pork barrel program?
The 30 year Abbott school experiment has proven that more spending didn’t equal thorough and it certainly didn’t efficient. It did equal huge increases in government spending and sky-high state income and local school property taxes. Why should lawmakers permit and taxpayer put up with the expiation of a failed program?
Back in 1990, the left and its legal advocates wanted “a uniform per-pupil spending level” in New Jersey with “95 percent of all educational spending [to] fall within the equalized per-pupil rate and local districts could spend only 5 percent more per child”. Now the cry is to spend 50 to 70 percent more.
Taxpayers will never be able to meet the ever increasing demands of the Education Law Center and the “more money for education” crowd. They’ve had their way with us for decades, it’s long past time that we taxpayers put our foot down.
Corzine’s “New Formula For Success” Lacks Logic, Accountability and Financial Responsibility
It was clear back then that Corzine’s plan would expand the Abbott school district spending and funding formulas to more districts. That’s exactly what the Governor’s “New Formula for Success" proposes.
Corzine is pushing ahead despite, as we pointed out in early May, 2006, that his administration admitted the Abbott model has been a failure. To the New Jersey Supreme Court his administration unequivocally stated:
“Abbott districts have been spending at some of the highest levels in the State, and well beyond non-Abbott districts, with no discernable correlation to improved achievement.”Department of Education Commissioner Lucille Davy said:
“I'm concerned that we're spending $18,000 a kid in Asbury Park, for example, and their results are near the bottom in almost any measure. We need to figure out why we are not getting the outcomes.. It's clearly not a matter of resources."Davy said that just over eighteen months ago and yet, yesterday, Corzine proposed increasing state aid to Asbury Park to $23,004 per student. Is there any logic, accountability or fiscal responsibility in that decision? And $23,004 is just the direct state aid figure and doesn’t include additional funding that will be spent by Asbury Park from local and federal sources, plus other state aid funding programs.
Governor Corzine has chosen to replicate a failed program that has produced the highest property taxes in the nation and has nearly bankrupted the state’s treasury.
The Governor has not proposed a “property tax relief” program, but a plan designed to increase government spending and to ensure property tax increases. He should be stopped!
Corzine Releases New School Spending Plan
Categorical state aid and other information for each school district may be found at the following links.
K-12 State Aid Summary, Budget Amounts and Demographic Data
K-12 State School Aid Detail
Explanatory Notes for Aid Allocations
Next year state income tax revenue will increase by $886 million, bringing the total “property tax relief fund” for public school aid to $12.5 billion. The information released today provides information on the allocation of only 62 percent of state school aid, $7.8 billion. It does not include $4.7 billion in school aid that will be allocated to districts for “regular preschool”, payroll taxes, pension contributions and debt service. It also doesn’t include the allocation of $918.3 million in federal aid.
Currently, the average spending per student for New Jersey is $16,000. Next year the average will rise to $18,000 and will be funded through $12 billion in local school property taxes, $12.5 billion in state income taxes (Property tax relief fund) and $918.3 million in federal aid to the state’s public schools.
Adequate Spending per Student
Click to Enlarge
Stop The Proposed New School Funding Formula Or Kiss Property Tax Relief Goodbye
We believe the proposed school funding formula is built on a series of false premises - more money must be spent per student in districts with lower median incomes, called “at-risk”, and in districts with a high percentage of immigrants.
Once lawmakers in Trenton buy into these spending principles, the property tax relief debate is over and taxpayers will have lost.
“Abbott districts have been spending at some of the highest levels in the State, and well beyond non-Abbott districts, with no discernable correlation to improved achievement.”
That quote comes from a Corzine administration brief before the New Jersey Supreme Court. The verdict on the thirty-year experiment is in. More spending didn't equal thorough and it certainly didn't equal efficient. It did equal sky high state income and property taxes. That’s the reality and yet, Governor Corzine is proposing to expand that same failed spending model, albeit under a new name.
When most people think of equal opportunity and adequate school spending they imagine equal spending per student in all districts, with some additional resources allocated for disabled children. That’s not what this new scheme proposes - it layers additional spending on top of additional spending based upon demographics.
The following is an overview of the four basic steps used to develop the proposed new school aid formula. For those in a hurry, check out the charts shown below taken from the New Jersey Department of Education
The Basic Steps
One, determine adequate per student spending to deliver a “thorough and efficient education”.
The state assigned “professional judgment panels” (PJP) using the “costing-out” method to determine the resources necessary to meet the state’s educational standards.
The panels established a base cost per student depending upon district type, K-8 or K-12, and by size of district enrollment – very small, small, moderate, large and very large.
The established base spending amounts reflect economies of scale and are considered adequate for the majority of the state's school districts.
Two, determine any additional spending requirements above adequate base spending and establish weight factors for increasing spending per student.
The panels identified three categories for additional spending – disabled students and two based on district demographics – income and percentage of immigrant population.
The panels developed a series of weight factors to be applied to the base amounts for each category.
Income –“At-Risk”: The panels decided students living in districts with lower per capita median incomes, relative to the state’s average, were “at-risk” and therefore, required additional resources. The panels determined spending per student should increase based upon the "at-risk" intensity of a district.
Spending over the base for “at-risk” districts will range from a low of 42 percent to a high 66 percent per student.
Immigrant Population – EEL: The panels decided English Language Learners (EEL) required additional spending and used the percentage of immigrants living in a district as a proxy for determining districts in need of this additional spending.
Spending over the base for EEL districts will range from a low of 38 percent to a high of 85 percent. This amount would be on top of any “at-risk” factor applied.
Special Education: The panels established levels of special education needs and a series of weight factors for each – speech, moderate, severe, preschool disabled and extended school year.
Spending over base for special education will range from a low of 55 percent to a high of 725 percent.
Three, establish adequate spending per student for each district using the appropriate weight factors and calculate adequate total spending for each district
The state determines each district’s eligibility for increasing base spending for each factor – “at-risk”, ELL and special ed. The product of each weight factor is then added to the appropriate base to arrive at adequate spending per student for each school district.
District enrollment is multiplied by the adequate spending per student amount to determine a district’s adequate spending total.
Four, calculate state aid. State aid is based upon the extent each district can afford to fund the adequate per student spending established by the state for that district. The formula for calculating ability to pay is based on a district’s relative per capita property wealth and income, as measured against the state’s medians.
The state then calculates the total spending each district can afford and subtracts that amount from the total spending deemed adequate for the district. The difference between the two totals equals the amount of state aid the distinct should receive under the formula.
Charts below from the New Jersey Department of Education’s website – Planning for a New School Funding Formula. Click on each chart to enlarge.
Former Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party Embraces I&R
Not surprisingly, Tom Byrne, former Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party, is now pushing the idea - Modified I&R Could Work - on the Star-Ledger’s NJ Voices opinion forum.
Updated - New Jersey Schools: Rich, Poor, Unequal
Back in 1990, the group said there should be uniform spending per student across the state with little, if any leeway for local districts to spend more. The group’s plan back then was for an equalized per-pupil rate with local districts allowed to spend only 5 percent more per child. The New York Times had the story - New Jersey Schools: Rich, Poor, Unequal:
Marilyn J. Morheuser, head of the Education Law Center and its chief lawyer in the current court fight, says a uniform per-pupil spending level could require a handful of high-spending suburban districts to reduce programs or staff to get within a proscribed level.Back in 1990, the ELC’s example of an overspending school district was Millburn, at $6,247 per student. The state’s average was $5,200 and a poor Abbott school district was spending only $4,867 per child.
Under her plan, 95 percent of all educational spending would fall within the equalized per-pupil rate and local districts could spend only 5 percent more per child.
"If there is any local leeway, it would be very narrow," Ms. Morheuser said.
By 2005, the state’s average cost per student was $13,800 and the Education Law Center was still complaining and suing for more funding for Abbott school districts. Millburn was spending $13,977 per student and the Abbott schools districts of Newark, Asbury Park and Hoboken were spending $22,829, $23,572 and $22,221 respectively. That’s 63 percent, 69 percent and 59 percent more per student than Millburn.
What happened to the ELC plan calling for uniform per-pupil spending with a 5 percent leeway?
Zeroing In On A New School Funding Formula
Definition of zero-sum game: “A situation in which participant gains result only from another’s equivalent losses. The net change in total wealth among participants is zero; the wealth is just shifted from one to another.”
Of course that’s exactly how New Jersey’s collection and allocation of state aid for education works. The state’s education “property tax relief fund” is precisely equal to the revenue collected in state income taxes and that money is distributed by the state, creating winners and losers.
New Jersey’s public schools are paid for with revenue from local property taxes, the state’s income tax (property tax relief fund) and federal taxes (federal funding). While residents (game participants) pay unequal amounts into these funding sources, you might expect the state to distribute aid to produce roughly equivalent spending per student in each district. But, that’s not the way it has worked in New Jersey. It’s long been a zero-sum game that adds insult to injury.
The U.S. Census and The New York Times have the final results of the New Jersey game for 2005. The average spending per student was $13,800, but the districts receiving the most aid, spent the most per student by wide margins.
In 2005, the Newark school district spent an average of $22,829 per student, Asbury Park $23,572 and Hoboken $22,221. Those three represent the so-called poor Abbott school districts. Wealthy Millburn, the town with the highest average property taxes in the state, spent $13,977 per student. Middleclass North Plainfield, with its homeowners paying the state’s average residential property tax, spent $12,617 per student.
Corzine has described the outrageous spending by the Abbott School districts as having "no rational basis of explanation". His administration has also told the New Jersey Supreme Court:
“Abbott districts have been spending at some of the highest levels in the State, and well beyond non-Abbott districts, with no discernable correlation to improved achievement.”
The new funding formula is supposed to change all that and provide real property tax relief.
Next year, Corzine expects New Jersey’s state income tax revenue to increase by $886 million, bringing the total “property tax relief fund” for public school aid for 2008 to $12.5 billion. The federal government will kick in $918.3 million on top of the $12 billion that will be collected by municipalities in school property taxes. That’s a total of $25.4 billion to educate 1,387,963 public school students, an average of $18,012 per pupil. The total pot should be more than enough to provide a “thorough and efficient” education to every child in the state and still have enough left over to provide major property tax relief to those who pay the bulk of the state’s income and property taxes.
So, that leaves us with three big questions. Will Corzine’s new school funding formula produce lower property tax bills or will it fuel new spending? Will state aid be allocated to produce roughly equivalent spending per student or will a new irrational explanation be used to justify spending more on those favored? Will 45 percent of the state’s districts still be considered “too wealthy” for basic state aid?
“When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.”
Is this guy in the tank for Clinton or what?