Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adjustment Aid and DFG B: Who Gets It and Who Doesn't

I just wanted to make a quick follow up on my post yesterday about Adjustment Aid and who does and doesn't get it.

DFB B is the second poorest of the eight District Factor Groups.

Only 40% of DFG B districts get any Adjustment Aid.  This is lower than the 49% of DFG A districts that get it. Like with DFG A, the aid is usually a very small portion of district revenue with only a handful of exceptions

With DFG B you see how Adjustment Aid is really skewed towards the Jersey Shore (as well as rural areas).  Cape May, Ocean, and Atlantic counties have 11 of the 27 DFG B districts getting Adjustment Aid.

This is yet another reason why Adjustment Aid is so problematic.  Even if these Jersey Shore districts have higher-than-average FRL rates, that doesn't mean that they are low-resource.

Wildwood Crest has $2,147,644,070 in valuation for 250 students, or $8.6 million per student.  Even if you assign only two thirds of that to Wildwood Crest since it is only K-8, it still has $5.7 million per student, a figure even higher than Hoboken.

Lower Cape May Regional has $6,874,334,464 in equalized valuation for only 1,449 students, or $4.7 million a student.  Lower Cape May Regional is just a high school, but even if you assigned it only a third of that valuation per student, it would still have over $1.5 million a student, an extremely high figure.

Middle Township is a K-12 district with $2,720,079,400 in valuation for 2,588 students, or $1.05 million per student.  Also a high figure.

Upper Township has $1,924,606,756 for 1338 students, or $1.4 million per student.  It's another K-8 district, but even at two thirds valuation, it still has almost a million per student, an above-average figure.

What's more, the above districts are Interdistrict Choice districts, so they get additional money on top of their Adjustment Aid.  The NJ DOE originally wanted to make offsetting cuts to Adjustment Aid districts participating in Interdistrict Choice but never followed through on this due to opposition from several Cape May districts.

I need to emphasize that the real story here is Jersey City.  Jersey City gets $114.4 million in Adjustment Aid.  The other DFG B districts that get Adjustment Aid only combine for $73.4 million.

Jersey City only has about $550,000 in valuation per student (not counting its PILOTed property). That's a lower than average figure, but Jersey City's school tax rate is only 0.58, a an extremely low rate.  Jersey City's Local Tax Levy is $109 million on $18.3 billion in valuation.

When the state looks at sources for revenue for its many badly underfunded and underaided schools it needs to look at Adjustment Aid.  The districts that get Adjustment Aid are better positioned to absorb cuts than other districts are.

As for "Who doesn't get Adjustment Aid?"  It should be clear.  It's most districts period, but the program does nothing for most poor students.  In terms of geography suburban districts are the victims as usual.


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