Thursday, April 26, 2018

Christie Underfunded State Aid by Almost $15 billion

Christie underfunded SFRA
by almost $15 billion, not
$9 billion as the NJEA and ELC
always say.
One of many myths about state aid spun by the NJEA and Education Law Center is that Chris Christie underfunded SFRA by a cumulative $8-$9 billion.

Speaking in January 2017 NJEA vice president Marie Blistan said:
NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan today called on members of the Joint Committee on Public Schools to commit to fully funding the state’s existing school funding formula, known as SFRA. She pointed out that since 2010, SFRA has been underfunded by approximately $1 billion per year by the Christie Administration. As a result, school funding across the state has been distorted, leading to what she called “gross inequities” among districts.
Writing in March 2017 NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer wrote:
"Now the same governor who robbed public schools of $8 billion over seven years wants to move at break-neck speed to blow up SFRA, which is New Jersey's best hope for restoring fairness and adequacy to school funding." [my emphasis] 

The Education Law Center, which has an aura of scholarship than the NJEA lacks, perpetuates this myth as well.

In May 2016 the Education Law Center claimed "Governor Christie has shortchanged districts through a combination of state aid cuts and flat funding over six years. The level of SFRA underfunding in the current school year is $1 billion."  [my emphasis]

The ELC has also disseminated The $1 billion per year deficit with graphics took. See below.


Phil Murphy, who is not known for pulling punches against Christie, has used the $8-$9 billion numbers too.

This governor [Christie] has underfunded by over $8 billion. It’ll be over $9 billion by the time he he leaves. Let’s fund the formula.  (see minute 4:18)

Susan Cauldwell of the anti-redistribution group SOS-NJ has also repeated the $8 billion number:

"since this Governor took office, New Jersey's public schools have been shortchanged by $8 billion dollars."


The claim that Christie only underfunded SFRA by a cumulative $8-$9 billion is based on SFRA's deficit relative to Capped Aid and that isn't the real deficit since Capped Aid is an artificial, arbitrary 10% or 20% increase on what an underaided district already gets.

As the SFRA statute says:

d. For the purposes of this section, “State aid growth limit” means 10% in the case of a district spending above adequacy and 20% in the case of a district spending below adequacy.
Even if a district gets under a fifth of its recommended state aid, Capped Aid is still a 10% or 20% increase on what it already got.  (So SFRA would bring a district funded at 20% up to 24%)

Since the Education Law Center and NJEA oppose redistributing Adjustment Aid, they minimize the true deficit in order to conceal from the public the impossibility of full funding without redistribution.

Just to give some examples of the gaps between the Capped Aid target and what SFRA actually says these districts need:

  • Clifton's Capped Aid is $36,064,992, its Uncapped Aid is $74,093,370 
  • Woodbridge's Capped Aid is $34,797,211, its Uncapped Aid is $81,363,623 
  • Edison's Capped Aid is $18,590,429, its Uncapped Aid is $45,921,546 
  • West Orange's Capped Aid is $9,522,169, its Uncapped Aid is $26,124,668 
  • Kingsway's Capped Aid is $11,518,972, its Uncapped Aid is $20,222,609 
  • Plainfield's Capped Aid is $149,560,172, its Uncapped Aid is $179,338,042 
  • Egg Harbor Township's Capped Aid is $50,206,010, its Uncapped Aid is $72,674,342. 
  • Belleville's Capped Aid is $32,383,816, its Uncapped Aid is $47,434,533 
  • Bloomfield's Capped Aid is $27,624,372, its Uncapped Aid is $49,910,867 
  • Dover's Capped Aid is $31,087,078, its Uncapped Aid is $43,325,959 
  • Freehold Boro's Capped Aid is $12,839,774, its Uncapped Aid is $23,900,977 
  • Red Bank Boro's Capped Aid is $4,284,067, its Uncapped Aid is $9,546,929 
  • Chesterfield's Capped Aid is $985,426, its Uncapped Aid is $4,144,448

Now, after an OPRA request I have gotten the full Actual Aid versus Uncapped Aid numbers for the whole SFRA era.  As usual, I've put the data online.  2008-09 (deficits only), 2008-09 (surpluses only),  and 2009-10 to 2017-18 (with surpluses and deficits).  The 2009-10 to 2017-18 data is broken out in several ways you may find useful.

GovernorYearSurplus for Overaided DistrictsDeficit for Underaided DistrictsNet Deficit
Corzine Budgets
Christie Budgets
2011-12* ESTIMATE
(see explanation)
Total Corzine$1,602,987,245-$2,151,508,468-$548,521,223
Total Christie$5,012,920,042-$14,731,258,332-$9,718,338,290
Total SFRA History$6,615,907,287-$16,882,766,800-$10,266,859,513

As you can see, there is a steady trend of an increasing deficit since SFRA's inception in 2008-09, but SFRA was substantially underaided in the Corzine era, when the deficit actually was (coincidentally) the $1 billion that the NJEA and Education Law Center claim it is now, up to nearly $2 billion in 2017-18.

The $1.07 billion deficit for 2008-09 would be $1.22 billion in 2018 dollars.

Corzine actually did statutorily follow SFRA in 2008-09, but in 2009-10 he only allowed 171 underaided and under-Adequacy districts to receive aid increases and then capped those increases at 5%.  Corzine's 2009-10 budget also benefited from one-shot federal stimulus money.

The trend of increasing deficits in SFRA is just history repeating itself, since CEIFA had a trend of increasing deficits which reached an (estimated) $1.336 billion in 2007-08.  

The history of Adjustment Aid is more complex and I cannot trace every factor at work.  

In 2008-09 Adjustment Aid was a massive $850.6 million aid stream for 250 districts, an amount that would be $918 million in 2018 dollars.

Adjustment Aid decreased slightly in 2009-10 under Corzine before crashing by $290 million in 2010-11 when Christie cut state aid across-the-board by an amount that was equivalent to 4.9% of (almost) every district's budget.  

Adjustment Aid increased again after the Abbott XXI decision (18 of the Abbotts were already overaided in 2010-11) and Christie's gradual increase in state aid to non-Abbotts before shrinking again as Christie redistributed Adjustment Aid for 2012-13. 

Note, my data for 2008-09 is more limited than my data for the other years of SFRA.
I suspect that there were districts who were 100% funded that year, but I cannot be sure
of that number, hence I am not 100% sure of the number of underaided districts.

Let's Use Real Deficit Numbers

The Education Law Center knows how SFRA operates and knows what Uncapped Aid is.  Before pressure mounted to redistribute Adjustment Aid, the ELC produced charts showing state aid deficits and surpluses against Uncapped Aid.

However, now that there is a vocal movement calling for the redistribution of Adjustment Aid, the Education Law Center and NJEA have switched tack to diminish SFRA's deficit in order to make full funding look budgetarily possible without redistribution, even claiming that Phil Murphy's $284 million increase for 2018-19 is the first step towards "full funding."

Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed education budget for FY19 is the first in eight years to distribute state aid according to the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA), New Jersey’s weighted student funding formula enacted in 2008. The Governor’s proposal also puts the state on a path towards full funding for all school districts in four years.

I strongly oppose the Education Law Center and NJEA's stances against redistribution, but what bothers me the most is their misrepresentation of what SFRA's authentic deficit even is.

It is narrowly accurate to refer to the $1 billion a year deficit as the "statutory deficit," but the Education Law Center and NJEA do not add any such qualification and hence, they say Christie only underfunded SFRA by about $1 billion a year, or $9 billion cumulatively.

The Education Law Center has never been about budgetary realism.  It has not purported to have any method to pay for its ambitions since the early 1990s before it allied with the NJEA.

Now that the Education Law Center has completely given up on suggesting any way to pay for its preferred policies it has decided to deny the real cost of what those ambitions even are.

In what must cause the Education Law Center and NJEA much consternation, awareness of SFRA's real deficit is coming out, like this April 2018 piece on NJSpotlight.

While the ultimate goal of the state aid reform movement is fair funding, getting there requires transparency on Uncapped Aid deficits.  Let's fight to guarantee that too.


  1. NOTE 1: 2011-12 is an Estimate since SFRA was Not Run that Year: I made the estimate of what Uncapped Aid was for that year by averaging 2010-11 Uncapped Aid with 2012-13 Uncapped Aid.   Because that year's surplus and deficit are estimates, the sum of $14.7 billion in underfunding for the Christie era is also an estimate.  If 2011-12 is subtracted, SFRA's total cumulative deficit would be $15.2 billion and the Christie era would be $13 billion. 
  2. NOTE 2: I did not factor out Interdistrict Choice money from any year's state aid, nor apply "Commercial Valuation Stabilization Aid."
  3. NOTE 3:  There are some minor discrepancies in Adjustment Aid between the data the DOE sent me via OPRA and what is publicly available for the early years of SFRA. The State Aid Notices for the last few years are highly inaccurate and they may have been inaccurate starting in 2009-10.
  4. NOTE 4:  I requested Uncapped Aid for 2008-09 to 2017-18, but the DOE did not send me 2008-09. However, I had made an earlier request for Uncapped Aid that year which the DOE did comply with. Adjustment Aid that year was on-formula and public.  I've used my earlier OPRA request for 2008-09 for the deficit and the public State Aid Notices for the Adjustment Aid surplus.
Abbott XXI Increased Adjustment Aid


Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 New Jersey School Taxes

This post is a dive into New Jersey's school taxes for 2018.

This post uses 2018-19 Local Fair Share and compares it to 2017-18 tax levies.  At first it might seem like this is a faulty analysis, but since Local Fair Share is built on lagging data anyway, ie, the 2018 Equalized Valuation and the 2015 Aggregate Income, it is legitimate.

The formula for Local Fair Share is tweaked year to year.  This is the formula for 2018-19.

(Equalized Valuation x 0.013828828) / 2 + (District Income x 0.046200477) / 2

Average and Median Taxes
  • The weighted average for taxes as a percentage of Local Fair Share : 86.52%
  • The unweighted average for taxes as a percentage of Local Fair Share: 94.00%
  • The median district's taxes as a percentage of Local Fair Share: 98.45%
That's quite a divergence between the weighted average from the median and unweighted average, isn't it?

A slightly different, but still wide, divergence exists if you look at districts' averages for Local Fair Share per student and median.
  • The weighted average for Local Fair Share per student is $12,752.
  • The unweighted average for Local Fair Share per student is $31,318.
  • The median district's Local Fair Share per student is $13,436.
The reason for these divergences is that a large share of New Jersey's property wealth is concentrated in relative handful of districts, often at the Jersey Shore, that have very few students and tax well below their full Local Fair Shares.

The following 30 districts have the highest Local Fair Shares per student, ranging from $1.9 million per student for Avalon to $62,655 per student for Wildwood Crest Boro.

Avalon, Point Pleasant Beach (Mantoloking), Stone Harbor Boro, Allenhurst, Cape May Point, Sea Isle City,  Loch Arbour, Longport, Hasbrouck Heights Boro (Teterboro), Long Beach Island, Beach Haven Boro, Spring Lake Boro, Sea Girt Boro, Alpine Boro, Bay Head Boro, Oceanport Boro (Sea Bright), Lavallette Boro, Saddle River Boro, North Wildwood City, Seaside Park Boro, Interlaken, Deal Boro, Cape May City, Margate City, Rockleigh, Hoboken, Englewood Cliffs, Harding Township, Ocean City, Wildwood Crest Boro.

These 30 districts, who claim only 8,093 students (0.6% of NJ's total) possess $883,083,692 in Local Fair Share, or 5.15% of New Jersey's total Local Fair Share. 

So doing the straightforward calculation of weighted average, of dividing the total levy, $14,892,976,955, by the total Local Fair Share $17,213,030,481, produces a skewed result that doesn't reflect the burden that a typical New Jerseyan has for school taxes.

The unweighted average for Local Fair Share per student is skewed by only four tiny districts, Avalon, Mantoloking, Stone Harbor, and Allenhurst, who all have over $1 million in Local Fair Share per student.

The bottom line is, use the median if you are going to talk about typical tax burdens or typical tax base per student!
***Notice that Millburn and Princeton are not among the districts with the highest Local Fair Shares per student. Millburn's Local Fair Share per student is $35,462. Princeton's is $31,619.

In property wealth per student, Hoboken is twice as
wealthy as Millburn.  (and yet it is an Abbott!)

Millburn is indeed the richest K-12 district in New Jersey with a normal age distribution, but the richest K-12 district in New Jersey is Hoboken ($79,106 in LFS per student), not Millburn. However, even Hoboken's wealth is dwarfed by the wealth of microdistricts and non-operating districts at the Jersey Shore plus Harding and Alpine.***

However, aside from those handful of ultra-high tax base districts, the tax base is not that concentrated like individual wealth is.  You would need to take the 231 most property-rich districts to get 50% of the total Local Fair Share.

But Ultra-Rich Districts Still Get State Aid!!

Despite having no need for even a cent of state aid, these ultra-high tax base districts are slated to get $22,939,081 in SFRA aid under Phil Murphy's budget and $1,134,967 in Interdistrict Choice Aid.

That state aid is almost $3000 per student, yet it does not include the state's TPAF payments, teachers Social Security payments, post-retirement healthcare, construction payments, and PreK for Hoboken.

Tax Burdens in Overaided and Underaided are Similar, Except for the Severely Underaided:
  • The median overaided district pays taxes that are equal to 98.6% of Local Fair Share.  
  • The median underaided district pays taxes that are equal to 98.2% of Local Fair Share.  
Even the 85 districts who get $2000 per student or more of their state aid have a median tax burden of 102% of Local Fair Share.  

On the other hand, severely underaided districts indeed do have higher taxes. The 109 districts who are underaided by $2000 per student or more pay taxes that are 116.2% of Local Fair Share. Atlantic City, which is now the second most underaided district in New Jersey after Bound Brook, has taxes that are 287% of Local Fair Share ($81,888,890 out of $29,396,657)

The Abbotts Pay Nowhere Near their Local Fair Share

The median Abbott only pays 56.3% of its Local Fair Share in taxes.  Only three Abbotts, Burlington City, Salem City, and Phillipsburg, have taxes in excess of 100% of their Local Fair Shares or even above the state median.

44% of New Jersey's Districts are Not Supposed to Get Equalization Aid

Another facet of NJ's wealth distribution is that 260 districts -- 44% of New Jersey's districts total of 593 -- are not supposed to get Equalization Aid because their Local Fair Shares exceed their Adequacy Budgets (for Equalization Aid).  The only direct operating aid these districts get is Special Education Aid, Transportation Aid, Security Aid, and Adjustment Aid.

The percentage of districts who are not supposed to receive Equalization Aid has gradually increased.  In 2009-09, SFRA's first year, only 184 districts - 31% of all in New Jersey - did not receive Equalization Aid.

The ratios of Local Fair Share to Adequacy Budget range from 138:1 for Avalon to 1:13 for Bridgeton.

In the 2020s as New Jersey's pension crisis deepens I expect that the state will want to reduce state aid for districts who do not economically need it.

Most of the Heaviest Tax Burdens are in the Severely Underaided

Although, very broadly speaking, tax burdens in overaided and underaided districts are similar, most (22/30) of New Jersey's most overtaxed districts are underaided.

Heaviest-taxed districts who are severely underaided include Atlantic City (-$7,898 pp for 2017-18), Manchester Regional (-$7,712), Woodlynne (-$4,781 pp), Winfield Township (-$3,261 pp), Lawnside Boro (-$3,638 pp), Linden (-$4,381 pp), Pine Hill Boro (-$2,721 pp) Hi Nella (-$5,900 pp), Ridgefield Park (-$5,093), Newton (-$3,162), Wharton Boro (-$3,792 pp), and Chesterfield (-$4,263 pp).

NJ's most extreme tax burdens are often due to falls in tax base.
  • Atlantic City's Equalized Valuation has fallen from $16.16 million to $2.8 billion since 2010.
  • Milford's EV has fallen from $146 million to $119 million since 2010.
  • Califon's EV has fallen from $153.6 million to $144.6 million since 2010.
  • Woodlynne's EV $100.6 million  to $68.5 million since 2010.
  • Lawnside's EV has fallen from $268.2 million to $213.5 million since 2010.
  • Gateway Regional's EV has fallen from $1.05 billion to $897 million since 2010.
  • Fredon's EV has fallen from $495.8 million to $433 million since 2010.

Although not every town with an extreme school tax burden is underaided, this is a reminder of how the state needs to step in with additional state aid for severely underaided towns so they can break their cycles of higher taxes > lower property values > higher taxes > lower property values.

It is also a reminder of how many NJ towns are seeing erosion of tax base against inflation and even in absolute dollars.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Changes in PreK Funding for 2018-19

This post looks at changes in PreK funding between 2018 and 2019.

Governor Phil Murphy has a strong commitment to PreK and is increasing direct funding from $680.5 million to $738.1 million, a $57.6 million increase, with several tens of millions more in indirect funding for TPAF payments and teachers Social Security, plus eventual post-retirement healthcare.

Even if one only considers the $738.1 million in direct costs, PreK costs are equal to 8% of NJ's PreK-12 direct aid, or 2% of New Jersey's overall budget.  This is a slight increase from FY2009, when PreK was only 6.4% of PreK-12 direct aid, or 1.6% of the overall budget.

Of that $57.6 million increase, most ($32.6 million) goes as inflation adjustment and enrollment growth for existing programs or to make up for the loss of federal money (see pg 16).  Only $25 million is planned for new PreK spaces in new districts.  That new $25 million has not yet been assigned to districts.

The $57.6 million increase is almost equal to the PreK increase in the entirely of Christie's term, who increased PreK from $596.1 million in FY2010 to $655.5 million in FY2018.

Unlike in K-12 funding, where Murphy did not allow any district to lose state aid, Murphy is allowing aid losses for PreK, and 35 districts actually are losing PreK money due to declining enrollment. Bridgeton's loss will be the largest, $1.3 million. New Brunswick's loss will be $575,051.  This PreK aid dynamism is a carryover from Christie , who also allowed some reductions for PreK.

See this page for easy comparisons of 2017-18 PreK and 2018-19 PreK.

Newark's $96,335,148 in PreK funding is 14% of the state total. Jersey City is next, at $67,611,454, then Paterson at $48,588,485.

 It is noteworthy that Jersey City's PreK aid is 39% larger than Paterson's, since Jersey City's K-12 student population, 30,815, is only 7% higher than Paterson's 28,716.

This large gap between Jersey City's PreK funding and Paterson's is a reminder of how Jersey City's demographics skew towards young children.   It goes without saying that most of the children benefiting from state-funded PreK in Jersey City are not low-income and migrate into private schools or suburban district once they are past PreK or kindergarten.  

The non-Abbott district getting the most PreK money is Little Egg Harbor, which is slated for $3.9 million.  Red Bank Boro is in second place among non-Abbotts, getting $3.6 million.

Although there is a diminishment of the Abbott monopoly of PreK in New Jersey, there is only one Abbott, Burlington City, that gets less PreK aid than Little Egg Harbor and Red Bank Boro.  The next lowest-funded Abbott, Phillipsburg, gets $4.5 million, which is more than any non-Abbott.

450 NJ school districts do not receive anything for PreK, although not all of those students enroll elementary schoolers where offering PreK would even be appropriate.  Nonetheless, there are many district with large FRL-eligible populations who receive nothing for PreK, like Bloomfield, Belleville, Clifton, Egg Harbor Township, West Orange, Edison, Woodbridge, Sayreville.

Since NJ's unmet needs in PreK are so large, one could celebrate PreK this expansion to new districts, but one can also look at how unfair the existing distribution is and how New Jersey funds PreK for 3's in the Abbotts when it offers nothing to 4's in non-Abbotts.  One can also see the distribution as unfair because the large number of privileged children in Hoboken and Jersey City who get "free" PreK.


See Also:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

New State Aid Should Be Based on State Aid Deficits, Not Adequacy Deficits

For years, the Education Law Center has asserted that the central point of state aid in New
David Sciarra of the
Education Law Center/NJEA:
If an underaided district pays high taxes and is
above Adequacy, give it no additional state aid.

If an overaided district pays low taxes and is
below Adequacy, let it keep its aid hoard.
Jersey should be bringing school district spending up to Adequacy and maintaining it there, regardless of whether or not a district is willing to tax itself to sustain spending at Adequacy.

Thus, the Education Law Center makes pronouncements like this:
"In debating state school aid in the upcoming budget, Governor Murphy and lawmakers must recognize that “adequate” funding lies at the heart of the SFRA. The centerpiece of the formula is each district’s “Adequacy Budget,” based on the cost of educating all students and the additional cost of programs for disadvantaged students – low-income (at-risk) students, limited English proficient pupils, and students with disabilities."
This dogma that Adequacy spending is all that matters is the basis of the Education Law Center's defenses of Adjustment Aid even forJersey City, whose taxes are at only 30% of  Local Fair Share and whose $175 million in Adjustment Aid for 2018-19 deprives other districts of state aid they desperately need.

At times the Education Law Center says that SFRA's own prescriptions of aid for above-Adequacy districts should be ignored and new aid should go exclusively to districts who are below Adequacy.

For instance, this recent Philadelphia Inquirer story on state aid discontent has an example:

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, which argued the Abbott v. Burke cases that laid the groundwork for the state’s school-funding formula, said districts like Chesterfield have “valid complaints” about their state aid. The problem is the state’s chronic underfunding of schools, he said: “It’s not like [Murphy]’s targeting these districts somehow for particular treatment.” 
If lawmakers add money to Murphy’s budget, Sciarra said, they should direct it to districts that are spending less than their “adequacy” budgets — the formula’s calculation of what each district must spend to give its students a “thorough and efficient” education. [my emphasis]

Yes, Adequacy is a Goal, but Tax Equity Matters Too

There is a lot of overlap between giving new state aid to under-Adequacy districts and underaided districts, since the most severely underaided districts are usually (but not always) severely under Adequacy, but the rankings of most underaided and most under Adequacy are not the same since spending relative to Adequacy depends on local tax effort and not only state aid.

20 Largest State Aid Deficits, 2017-1820 Largest Adequacy Deficits, 2017-18
Bayonne -$5,150Cliffside Park -$4,520
Woodlynne -$5,239Belleville -$4,521
North Plainfield-$5,338South River -$4,525
Lodi -$5,411Paterson-$3,342
Ridgefield Park Twp-$5,431Carteret Boro-$4,074
Elmwood Park-$5,578Hammonton -$3,653
Kearny -$5,634Bridgeton City-$3,537
Haledon -$5,676New Brunswick -$4,525
Prospect Park -$5,902Fairfield Twp-$4,589
Manville Boro-$6,110North Bergen Twp-$6,757
Guttenberg-$6,285Red Bank Boro-$5,761
Hi Nella-$6,481Union City-$5,936
Dover Town-$6,565Prospect Park-$5,993
East Newark-$6,960Bayonne City-$6,484
Manchester Reg-$7,015West New York-$6,757
Fairview Boro-$7,361Fairview Boro-$7,167
Freehold Boro-$7,675Dover Town-$7,897
Atlantic City -$8,184East Newark-$8,011
Bound Brook-$9,301Guttenberg-$8,152

Please notice than Manchester Regional is not among the bottom twenty for its Adequacy deficit. In fact, Manchester Regional is ABOVE Adequacy.

Source for all data, Dr. Ken Greene's Fairness Index, 2017-18.  I used Ken Greene's table because he got more data on Adequacy and "Spending as Defined" than I did.

There are really four types of underaided districts:
  1. Low-taxing, under-Adequacy: Underaided districts whose taxes are below Local Fair Share and who are below Adequacy:  (there are 78 districts in these categories)
  2. High-taxing, under-Adequacy: Underaided districts whose taxes are above Local Fair Share and who are still below Adequacy.  (there are also 78 districts in these categories)
  3. High-taxing, over-Adequacy:  Underaided districts whose taxes are above Local Fair Share and who are above Adequacy.  (there are 91 districts in these categories)
  4. Low-taxing, over-Adequacy: Underaided districts whose taxes are below Local Fair Share, but whose tax bases are so strong that that is enough to lift spending above Adequacy.  (there 123 districts are in these categories)
It's defensible to deny additional state aid to underaided districts in Type 4, ie,  who are above Adequacy but who have taxes below Local Fair Share, because they are affluent towns like Princeton (58% of Local Fair Share) and Millburn (48% of LFS) or property-rich towns like Secaucus (68% of LFS) or Paramus (78%).  Spring Lake Boro actually only pays 18% of Local Fair Share and its school is at 212% of Adequacy!
Spring Lake, New Jersey is underaided by -$96,884
but getting Spring Lake to 100% of its state aid is
should not be a priority.

If these high-tax base districts were denied additional state aid, it would save New Jersey $116 million in obligation based on the 2017-18 deficits.

HOWEVER, David Sciarra's dogma that only under-Adequacy districts gain new state aid would disqualify many middle-income, even lower-income towns from receiving more state aid whose taxes are above Local Fair Share and whose taxpayers are paying undue burdens.

All of the following underaided districts are actually above Adequacy, despite being underaided.

DistrictTaxes as a Percentage of LFSPercentage of State Aid ReceivedSpending Above AdequacyDistrictTaxes as a Percentage of LFSPercentage of State Aid ReceivedSpending Above Adequacy
Wayne Twp106%49%132%Kenilworth Boro120%82%112%
Parsippany-Troy Hills Twp113%56%125%Lenape Valley Regional130%94%121%
West Orange Town135%34%119%Black Horse Pike Reg113%93%104%
Cherry Hill Twp121%49%112%Union Twp105%92%144%
East Brunswick Twp117%82%115%Green Brook Twp101%53%113%
Northern Valley Reg118%53%153%Ewing Twp122%52%104%
Ramsey Boro107%53%147%Mansfield Twp116%77%128%
Freehold Twp116%92%132%Gateway Reg145%82%113%
Morris Hills Reg136%92%134%Green Twp121%98%121%
Pascack Valley Reg122%51%150%Northvale Boro127%50%127%
Rockaway Twp124%86%136%Harmony Twp107%81%141%
Fair Lawn Boro123%38%115%Willingboro Twp107%96%103%
Mount Olive Twp133%67%116%Franklin Twp107%86%145%
Westwood Reg102%58%125%Haddon Twp106%96%106%
Park Ridge Boro108%52%157%High Bridge Boro136%93%126%
Oakland Boro131%48%144%Milltown Boro113%60%110%
Scotch Plains-Fanwood Reg101%52%110%Berlin Twp117%98%111%
Glen Rock Boro108%49%122%South Hackensack Twp111%57%124%
Greater Egg Harbor Reg123%98%113%Mount Holly Twp126%93%107%
Waldwick Boro133%45%129%Galloway Twp113%82%102%
Midland Park Boro116%69%146%Highland Park Boro117%53%104%
River Dell Regional126%45%125%Hawthorne Boro111%39%103%
River Vale Twp107%45%138%Glassboro106%95%103%
Dumont Boro120%93%116%Boonton Town114%45%106%
Linden City146%47%105%Hasbrouck Heights Boro115%31%104%
South Orange-Maplewood105%54%105%Clinton Town125%45%120%
Cinnaminson Twp116%92%114%Bogota Boro133%64%104%
Red Bank Reg120%78%129%Winfield Twp170%98%127%
Saddle Brook Twp107%61%119%Barrington Boro117%77%106%
Matawan-Aberdeen Reg111%83%108%Oxford Twp132%86%112%
Franklin Twp103%71%103%Rocky Hill (Montgomery Twp)102%75%137%
Hillsdale Boro117%72%128%Mount Ephraim Boro119%86%105%
Carlstadt-East Rutherford106%55%151%Farmingdale Boro127%94%117%
Rutherford Boro101%93%112%Ocean Gate Boro127%98%116%
Pompton Lakes Boro135%57%115%National Park Boro142%87%109%
New Milford Boro114%58%112%Lopatcong Twp102%90%102%
Passaic Valley Reg117%51%116%Newton Town148%60%102%
Warren Hills Reg119%89%111%Manchester Reg213%54%101%
Emerson Boro111%47%119%Clementon Boro107%94%101%
Pennsville135%74%112%Northfield City102%94%101%
Butler Boro122%85%120%Somerdale Boro124%79%101%
Harrington Park Boro116%50%134%Branchville Boro (Frankford Twp)109%64%105%
South Plainfield Boro103%97%105%Newfield Boro129%67%101%
Metuchen Boro101%50%109%Magnolia Boro128%78%100%
Glen Ridge Boro101%45%110%

David Sciarra writes their needs off.  If homeowners in these towns groan under school tax rates over 2.0 but the districts are above Adequacy, Sciarra seems to oppose them getting new state aid.

Due to Brutal Taxes, Manchester Regional is (Barely) Above Adequacy:
Taken Literally, David Sciarra of the Education Law Center
Would Not Allow it to Gain Additional State Aid 

Calculating New State Aid on Adequacy Deficits Would Create Distortions and Injustice

David Sciarra hasn't called for new state aid to be calculated based on districts' deficits against Adequacy, but it's a logical corollary to his calls for no overaided/under-Adequacy district to lose aid (eg Jersey City) and that no underaided/over-Adequacy gain aid.

If new aid were calculated based on Adequacy deficits, it would create distortions by giving more state aid to undertaxers than to overtaxers, even if their state aid deficits are equal.

For instance, Newark (DFG A) is underaided by -$2,852 per student. Newark's school taxes are only 70% of Local Fair Share (-$52 million), so Newark's Adequacy deficit is larger than its state aid deficit, or -$3,653 per student.

Paulsboro (DFG A) is underaided by -$3,186 per student, but Paulsboro taxes at 120% of Local Fair Share (+$949,477), so Paulsboro's Adequacy deficit is smaller than its state aid deficit, -$1,920 per student.

If state aid were determined based on a district's Adequacy deficit, Paulsboro would be punished for paying higher taxes.

There is a tendency of Abbott districts to pay significantly less than their Local Fair Shares.  In 2017-18 the median Abbott only paid 58% of Local Fair Share, whereas the median district in New Jersey paid 96% of Local Fair Share.

So a proposal to calculate state aid based on spending relative to Adequacy (which Sciarra hasn't explicitly made) would produce large skews in state aid towards the  Abbotts.

State Aid is State Aid:  The State's Duty Should be to Treat All Districts Equally, According to Need and Local Tax Capacity

My core belief is that state aid equality is an end in and of itself, so all districts need to be treated equally by the state, regardless of what their own taxpayers want to do.

If the Boards of Education of certain districts want to have lower taxes and do not want their schools to have the same resources as schools do in other districts, then it is not the state's obligation to make up funding gaps that exist due to the taxpayer's own reluctance to pay their local fair share.

If a Board of Education is extremely anti-tax, like Jersey City's is, then the Department of Education should have the power to compel a tax levy increase, like the Department of the Treasury compelled Jersey City to finally conduct a reval in 2017.

It's one thing to deny more state aid to wealthy suburbs who are technically underaided but whose tax rates are relatively low, but it is savagely indifferent to struggling taxpayers to deny relief to underaided towns who happen to be above Adequacy only because of high local tax effort.


See Also:
Manchester Regional,