NJ Fiscal Folly

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Corzine Budget And Abbott Districts

Continuing my rant from yesterday, Gov Corzine forecasts $11.62 Billion from individual income taxes in FY 2007. However, page 26 indicates that total state aid to the Abbott districts (including preschool) will reach $4.25 billion.

In other words, 37% of potential property tax relief has been confiscated from the majority of NJ communities to benefit a select few.

Update: FY 2007 state aid figures by county and by school district are now available at this site. It's not clear to me whether or not these numbers include $243 million identified for Abbott preschool programs, but I think not.


At 1:15 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

Keep your calculator out. As the chart on page 26 shows Abbott schools began with $4.25 billion or 40% and non-Abbott school aid equals $3.125 billion or 30%. To get the full total for the Abbott and non-Abbott school districts you need to add the amounts each receives from the other slices of the “school aid” pie.

Conservatively, you can add another 10% to the Abbott column, bringing the Abbott school share of the "school aid" pie to at least 50% or $5.81 billion.

We have been trying for the last year to get people to understand the reality of Abbott school aid. In almost every case the Abbott schools spend 30% more per pupil than their non-Abbott school counterparts in the same county. As the Budget in Brief states, 12 of the 15 highest spending K-12 districts are Abbotts. But it doesn’t end there – 31 of the highest spending 34 are Abbott school districts.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger PN said...

I get your point, but I wouldn't add nearly as much as you do.

First, I bet that school building aid probably excludes most Abbott spending, since Abbott districts already have a separate construction program at the NJSCC.

Second, the biggest chunk of teacher benefits is related to pension plan contributions and post-retirement medical benefits (see page 70). One might argue that these expenses reflect local personnel decisions and statewide cost allocations that pre-date Abbott. From a conceptual point of view, I consider this a different issue than Abbott versus non-Abbott spending, and therefore would exclude these expenses.

However, you are probably correct that Abbott spending totals should be increased to at least include some portion of the $692 million the state pays for teachers' Social Security.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In almost every case the Abbott schools spend 30% more per pupil than their non-Abbott school counterparts in the same county."

Isn't it plausible that there additional costs inherent in being an Abbott district that make up that 30%. Aside from the overstated (i.e., metal detectors, security personal, nutrition), people fail to look at % of budgets schools spend on tuiton to special schools as a result of emotional/learning disabilities. 100 million of one abbott schools budget (roughly 40 percent) goes to tuition for its students.

I grew up in a non-abbott school and now teach in an abbott district. I think people who see the figures alone fail to realize the differences between children in high and low income areas. The argument that they are not achieving to standards in other areas when those other areas have parents who are supportive is not really fair to make based on standardized tests. Show me a matched design between high/low income students that groups their test scores by IQ, parental support received, etc. Wonder why that study has never been done?

Yes, it is sad that property taxes are high. But people in high income areas or middle income areas for that matter do have some expendable money to pay, whereas the low income areas for whatever reason do not. Don't be fooled into thinking abbott schools are luxurious because they spend 30% more(there are mice, rats, cockroaches, very old buildings, sometimes no heat). By cutting funding to abbott districts the money is not going to be taken away from the corrupt portion (which I don't doubt exists) but it's going to be taken from the kids (supplies, trips, etc).

In effect the financial problems in abbott districts havent been solved and neither has the states issue since abbott schools are now severly understaffed and in August the state will have no choice but to increase their 06/07 budget.. as occurs every year.


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