Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New Jersey's Poorest School Districts 2016-17

This post is about the school districts in New Jersey with the weakest local tax bases.

My basis for identifying a district as among NJ's lowest resource is simply its Local Fair Share per student.  Please see this Table of Local Fair Shares per student for the source of this information.

I do not mean to say that all of these districts are necessarily the lowest spending or the highest proportion of kids living in poverty; only that they have the least ability to pay taxes in NJ based on Local Fair Share.

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Bridgeton is again the poorest district in New Jersey.  It has only $8.5 million in Local Fair Share for 5,724 students, or $1,483 per student.

Twenty of these 37 districts are Abbotts and get significantly more state aid per student than the non-Abbotts. For instance, Woodlynne (a non-Abbott that is 93% FRL-eligible and borders Camden City) gets $12,382 per student, whereas Bridgeton gets $14,802 per student, Camden City gets $18,142, Salem City gets $17,176, and Trenton gets $16,176 per student. Woodlynne's Pre-K funding gap is even worse.  Woodlynne only gets $103,743 for Pre-K, probably enough for ten kids for one year.  The Abbotts, by contrast, get two years of state-funded Pre-K for all children.

In some cases this superior state aid for the Abbotts is justified by more challenging demographics, but not consistently.  Pemberton and Phillipsburg, for instance, have FRL-eligible rates of 44% and 53%, respectively.

The most property-poor Abbotts get $15,600 per student, on average.  The non-Abbotts only get $10,400.

Since the Abbotts are already so advanced in state aid over non-Abbotts,  another Abbott lawsuit, as the ELC is threatening, is completely unfair and wrongheaded.

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The superior state aid, duh, lets the Abbotts have lower taxes.  Woodynne, on the other hand, has NJ's fourth heaviest school tax burden.

I don't have far to go in terms of analysis here, but because so many NJ districts have such inadequate tax bases, a proposal to require every district to pay for 25% of its school budget is not economically viable unless the plan is sensitive to Local Fair Share.

Again, the promise of SFRA to bring fairness in state aid to poor non-Abbotts remains unfulfilled.


See Also:
Help for the Needless: NJ's Richest Districts and their State Aid

Beyond the Point of Fairness: NJ's Most Overtaxed School Districts

The Poorest Districts in NJ (for 2015-16)

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