From the Star Ledger:
Jersey City slams $1,600 school tax hike, but education group says sides ‘need to figure how to make that work’
The Fulop administration slammed the Jersey City Board of Education for its $1,600-per-average-homeowner tax hike in next year’s budget, but an education advocacy group says the city and the school board need to “figure out how to make that work.”
The BOE struggled to pass in a 5-4 vote its nearly $1 billion budget as it trimmed the school tax in the 2022-23 budget from $2,400 to $1,600 a year in additional school taxes. The increase comes one year after the district — gashed by steep cuts in state aid — raised taxes by $993 to the average homeowner last year.
City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said Interim Superintendent Norma Fernandez and the school board are “wrong” for raising school taxes once again.
Education Law Center Research Director Danielle Fairre said even with the tax increase, the school district is still $100 million below its “local fair share,” the amount the state believes local taxpayers should kick in for their school district’s budget. She said the Jersey City district should not look to the state for help.
“The pace at which Jersey City is now expected to make up for the years of underfunding their local obligation may be unfair or unrealistic,” Fairre said. “We would support other creative solutions between the city and the BOE, but the fact is that the students in JCPS deserve adequate funding and resources.
‘The city and the district need to figure out how to make that work.”
Wallace-Scalcione said the district has “bloated salaries in their central office and have not looked at any common-sense changes that have been recommended to them for years.”
“The big question for Jersey City residents is over the last few years, where Jersey City residents have put thousands more into the schools by the Board of Education raising taxes, have the schools in Jersey City showed any meaningful progress or reform for that money?” Wallace-Scalcione said. “Sadly, the answer is no.”