Friday, February 19, 2016

More on 2016-17 State Aid: Where the Money's Going

The DOE has just come out with district-by-district state aid figures.

I haven't had time to fully analyze the aid figures and I don't have uncapped aid for 2016-17 yet, so the following is tentative and somewhat speculative.

The Amount

Christie said in his budget speech that he was increasing aid by $100 million, but then a quick look at the actual budget from the Treasury showed the increase was $94.3 million.

Now that I've actually examined the state aid summaries, the net increase is only $71.3 million.

The extra money for Atlantic City, the Commercial Stabilization money, must be coming from a department other than the DOE.

Abbotts and Everybody Else

The story of the K-12 increase is yet again a story of the Abbotts (who educate 20% of NJ's students) getting most of the new money, with NJ's other ~560 school districts who educate 80% of NJ's students dividing the remainder.

Most of the money the Abbotts are getting is going to just one Abbott: Newark, which is getting an additional $26,753,532.
And most of Newark's money - $22,061,928 - is just pass through dollars for charter schools. This pass-through money appears as "Host District Support Aid."

As I said before, most of the new aid for the Abbotts is actually going to Newark and most of the new aid is "host District Stabilization Aid," ie, aid for charters.

The "Host District Support Aid" is an underdefined aid stream.  The NJDOE's press release describes it thusly:

Host District Support Aid – Host District Support Aid is a new aid category that provides an additional $25.9 million to support school districts that send students to charter schools.  To ensure funding stability to charter schools, the proposed budget calls for all charter schools to receive the same base level of funding as they did in the previous year.  The largest portion of Host District Support Aid will provide the resources to help a number of larger urban school districts offset the cost of maintaining this level of charter school base funding. 

But this is strange because New Jersey's other "larger urban districts" that have charters are getting almost nothing.

  • Jersey City: $0. 
  • Paterson: $0.
  • Camden: $0.
  • Trenton: $0.
  • East Orange: $0.

Elizabeth has very few charter students, but it is also getting $0.

Except in giving Jersey City $0, THIS MAKES NO SENSE except in that Christie is doing his old friend Chris Cerf a favor.

K-12: Screwing Poor Non-Abbotts Again

The most underaided districts in New Jersey are GETTING SCREWED AGAIN.

Christie refused to redistribute any aid and tried to spread the $94.3 aid increase as broadly as possible, leaving very little available for New Jersey's most underaided and tax-hit districts.

The following districts were the most underaided in NJ in percentage terms in 2015-16.  I'm showing how much aid Christie proposes that they gain for 2016-17 and estimating the percentage received for 2016-17 using 2015-16 uncapped aid.

District2015-16 Actual Aid2015-16 Uncapped AidPercentage of Aid Received for 2015-16 Compared to Uncapped AidAid Increase for 2016-17ESTIMATED Percentage of Aid Received Based on 2015-16 Uncapped Aid
North Arlington Boro$1,781,919$5,554,82032%$32,51332.7%
Fairview Boro$7,393,649$23,144,49432%$85,02032.3%
Red Bank Boro$2,996,370$9,490,59432%$61,00432.2%
Ridgefield Park Twp$4,901,841$16,615,84730%$60,58029.9%
Woodbridge Twp$23,621,418$78,364,09530%$313,04230.5%
Robbinsville Twp$2,437,059$8,517,48629%$54,69729.3%
North Brunswick Twp$11,702,484$41,734,15628%$160,00728.4%
West Orange Town$6,950,527$27,649,42225%$97,15625.5%
Woodland Park$834,113$3,543,48124%$20,18424.1%
Little Ferry Boro$1,464,821$7,207,84120%$25,96620.7%
Hasbrouck Heights Boro$1,143,379$5,872,18419%$29,02520.0%
Elmwood Park$3,060,505$18,913,49416%$67,18816.5%
River Edge Boro$470,634$3,193,79915%$16,30415.2%
Chesterfield Twp$403,538$3,685,52011%$16,44511.4%

As you can see, there is almost no progress.

For districts with the largest deficits per student the situation is little better.  I had hoped Freehold Boro, Manchester Regional etc to gain at least a million each, but they are barely gaining $100,000 each.

In per pupil terms, the aid gained for the most savagely underaided districts is usually less than $100 per student.

2015-16 Actual Aid2015-16 Uncapped Aid2015-16 Aid DeficitNumber of Students2015-16 Aid Deficit Per StudentAid Increase for 2016-172016-17 Aid Deficit ESTIMATE (Using 2015-16 Uncapped Aid and 2015-16 enrollment)
MANCHESTER REGIONAL$6,486,069$16,740,127-$10,254,058958-$10,704$102,233-$10,597
BOUND BROOK$8,098,163$24,636,706-$16,538,5431,616-$10,234$104,395-$10,170
EAST NEWARK$3,395,757$7,002,718-$3,606,961273-$13,212$30,682-$13,100
FAIRVIEW BORO$7,393,649$23,144,494-$15,750,8451,314-$11,987$85,020-$11,922
FREEHOLD BORO$9,643,250$23,077,857-$13,434,6071,623-$8,278$100,770-$8,216
GUTTENBERG TOWN$5,033,239$13,187,713-$8,154,4741,031-$7,909$63,344-$7,848
MANVILLE BORO$5,257,866$14,238,305-$8,980,4391,383-$6,493$54,903-$6,454
NORTH PLAINFIELD$24,652,565$45,026,237-$20,373,6723,241-$6,286$210,715-$6,221
HALEDON BORO$6,806,166$12,789,445-$5,983,2791,022-$5,854$63,320-$5,793
ELMWOOD PARK$3,060,505$18,913,494-$15,852,9892,558-$6,197$67,188-$6,171
PROSPECT PARK$7,889,464$12,807,015-$4,917,551878-$5,601$71,310-$5,520

The DOE failed to run the formula again even within aid streams for districts.  This means that the amount of Adjustment Aid districts are getting is badly divorced from the formula.  For instance, Atlantic City is getting $7.8 million in Adjustment Aid and Newark is getting $13.3 million, even though both districts are badly underaided and that Adjustment Aid should simply become Equalization Aid


Total Pre-K spending is being held constant at $655.5 million.

This is a surprise to me since I'd assumed there would be some modest increase.

However, there was a shift within the $655.5 million due to the fact that some districts have growing 3s and 4s and some have shrinking populations

Again, Jersey City does very well here, gaining $923,000.

Hoboken does even better: gaining $1.3 million, by far the most.  

Newark and Elizabeth each lost over $1 million.


See Also:

Choice Districts, Charterized Districts Are Big Winners for 2016-17 State Aid


  1. Compared to 2010, Jersey City's aid decreased 4.6 percent.

  2. Where are you getting this?

    This is not accurate.

    There was one year in the mid-2000s when Jersey City got $430 million, but then its aid fell to about $417 million before SFRA was passed.

    Then SFRA was passed and Jersey City's aid was theoretically locked in at $~417 million indefinitely.

    Jersey City lost aid in the bottom of the Great Recession (along with every other district), but then in 2011 the NJ Supreme Court ordered the cuts be undone for the Abbotts (and only the Abbotts) and Jersey City's aid returned to the $418 million level where it has been ever since.