Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Big Winners, Losers in Pre-K Aid

Chris Christie is proposing that for 2016-17 that Pre-K aid be kept at exactly the same amount it was at for 2015-16, that is, $655,516,608, but this doesn't mean that every single Pre-K district is getting the same amount of aid that it got last year.

Due to increases in the number of children aged 3 or 4 in Pre-K districts, some of the aid shifts are very large.

The Gainers (all districts gaining more than $100,000):
Proposed Pre-K Aid Increase2015-16 Pre-K Aid2016-17 Proposed Pre-K Aid
HOBOKEN $1,288,185$10,229,295$11,517,480
JERSEY CITY$923,574$67,499,148$68,422,722
FRANKLIN TWP$863,872$857,123$1,720,995
BAYONNE $401,513$2,017,358$2,418,871
KEANSBURG $292,744$2,800,160$3,092,904
BOUND BROOK $290,275$429,607$719,882
EAST ORANGE$266,677$19,183,823$19,450,500
GLOUCESTER CITY$249,800$3,397,280$3,647,080
UPPER DEERFIELD TWP$230,020$222,600$452,620
BURLINGTON CITY$176,316$2,518,800$2,695,116
BELLMAWR BORO$171,696$815,556$987,252
UNION CITY$145,656$27,492,327$27,637,983
WOODBURY CITY$142,103$743,308$885,411
HAMILTON TWP$141,322$171,074$312,396
DEPTFORD TWP$112,992$706,200$819,192

The Losers (all districts losing more than $100,000):

Proposed 2016-17 Pre-K Decrease2015-16 Pre-K Aid 2016-17 Proposed Pre-K Aid
CAMDEN CITY-$186,900$29,852,930$29,666,030
HARRISON -$204,828$5,118,675$4,913,847
NEW BRUNSWICK -$210,334$20,559,906$20,349,572
PERTH AMBOY -$417,420$20,801,430$20,384,010
VINELAND -$607,410$18,762,220$18,154,810
LONG BRANCH CITY-$623,672$10,475,144$9,851,472
NEPTUNE TWP-$776,408$6,122,168$5,345,760
MILLVILLE -$808,059$9,122,245$8,314,186
NEWARK -$1,090,537$87,794,798$86,704,261

As I've said before, due to the state's refusal to update the Abbott list, New Jersey has a growing issue with the fair and rational provision of Pre-K services to needy students.

The NJ Supreme Court has forced the state to pay for "free" Pre-K for all 3s and 4s living in the Abbotts (and only the Abbotts) since the Abbott V decision of 1998.  

As the Gold Coast Abbotts have gentrified, the number of children they have enrolled in "free" Pre-K has increased and the percentage of them who are actually poor has decreased.  Less than half of Jersey City's Pre-K children are actually poor and only a small minority of Hoboken's are.  Hoboken's Pre-K children are almost never non-Anglophones either.  

SFRA was supposed to provide state-funded Pre-K to all 3s and 4s in New Jersey who live in districts where more than 40% of students are FRL-eligible and provide state-funded Pre-K to at least poor children in districts below this FRL-eligibility threshold.  

SFRA, as I've said repeatedly, is hopelessly unfundable, and the Abbott/Non-Abbott inequities are starker than ever.  

Means-testing for Pre-K eligibility would save New Jersey tens of millions of dollars a year.  If Pre-K advocates like Steven Sweeney and Teresa Ruiz were serious about finding more money for Pre-K for poor children outside of the Abbotts then means testing in the Abbotts is necessary.


  1. Means testing for Pre-K would turn the Pre-K programs into neglected day-care centers.

  2. So you realize that in most of the Abbotts there are few non-FRL eligible students. So do you consider Pre-K in districts like East Orange, Union City, Garfield, Passaic where probably less than 10% of the kids aren't FRL-eligible to be "neglected day care centers"?

    And how does anyone justify giving "free" Pre-K to the child of a lawyer and an associate hedge fund manager in Hoboken but not the child of a cashier living in Belleville?