Friday, January 27, 2017

Three Cheers for Pemberton!

Tony Trogone of Pemberton:
Doing the Right Thing

The State Senate Education Funding Committee's hearing at Kingsway Regional had a great deal of emotional testimony from parents and administrators of underfunded school districts who demanded a redistribution of Adjustment Aid.

I will write more of that soon, but I wanted to highlight the surprising testimony by Pemberton's Superintendent.

The Pemberton is actually NJ's second most overfunded district (after Jersey City), with over $26 million in excess aid, or nearly $6,000 per student.

At the hearing, Pemberton's superintendent said that Pemberton was ready to lose Adjustment Aid:

Pemberton Township is one of the so-called overfunded districts and stands to lose millions if it's adjustment aid is eliminated. That's no easy pill to swallow, but township school officials say it's still preferable to Gov. Chris Christie's proposal to scrap the funding formula altogether and give all districts a flat per-pupil amount. 
Doing so would likely result in significant aid increases for many underfunded districts, but Pemberton Township would stand to lose $52 million [this is erroneous, the amount is $26 million] , well over half of its $83 million in annual aid. 
Superintendent Tony Trongone made the trip to Kingsway to testify in favor of his district, which has large populations of students from military families serving on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, as well as substantial populations of students from poor families. Most of the township is also in the protected Pinelands Reserve, which limits its ability to grow its tax base. 
Despite those challenges, Trongone supports Sweeney's approach and said the district has spent several years trying to reduce its reliance on Adjustment Aid. 
"We've been waiting for this shoe to drop. The district has been fiscally prudent for when this time has come," he said, adding that he believes there is also a moral obligation to support fairness for school districts like Delran and Chesterfield that have been shortchanged. 
"I want to do everything I can for Pemberton. But I know we have to look at the bigger picture," Trongone said.

The source of this quote is from this Burlington County Times article (which has some errors in it)

Pemberton's Mayor has also come out in acceptance of losing Adjustment Aid.  I now feel bad about calling Pemberton an "aid hoarder."  


  1. Of note:

    "Recent research by Jens Ruhose, Ludger Woessmann, and me shows clearly that the economic growth of a state is directly related to the skills of its workforce. And the skills of the workforce are heavily dependent on the state’s schools. Even with the considerable mobility of the U.S. population, the majority of students will continue to reside in the state where they were educated.."

    "Consider first the impact of all states pulling their schools up to the performance of those in the highest-achieving state, which over the past two decades has been Minnesota."

    "States of course differ widely, with Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana each gaining more than eight time their current GDP while states with achievement closer to Minnesota such as Wyoming and Connecticut would “only” gain twice their current GDP. Indeed, the achievement distance to Minnesota may take more than the 15 years assumed by these calculations, but even moving to the best state in the region would confer substantial economic results. For example, California may not be able to move its schools quickly enough to reach Minnesota standards, but moving to the level of Washington State would still mean some 4 ½ times GDP (instead of 7 times GDP)."

    The Economic Impact of Good Schools

    Please note funding is only one side of the coin. Quality is another. A cousin of mine who was an Honors Student in her NJ school floundered in math and science courses in MIT, while South Asians educated in British system (taking O and A levels) had no problem.

    You need to follow up with students in system after they go to elite schools and see how do they fare there? Properly Math and Science subjects are better barometer.

  2. I agree with you about the economic benefits of good schools, but quality of education doesn't smoothly correspond with spending (you didn't say they did)

    Minnesota only spent $11400 per student in 2013-14. NJ spent $17,907 per student.

    Also, economic growth depends on many factors, not just schools. Finland's economy has actually been doing badly lately, so has Japan's.

    The states with the best economies, CA, TX, UT, MA don't have stand-out schools and aren't high spending. Utah's spending is the lowest in the US in fact.