PISCATAWAY, NJ – Piscataway homeowners will see a reduction in their school taxes next year now that New Jersey has increased the amount of state aid it allocates for the district’s budget.
At its July 20th meeting, “the Piscataway Board of Education voted unanimously to immediately return $995,236 to local homeowners in the form of tax relief, meaning that the average homeowner will see a $43.73 reduction in their school taxes for the coming year,” said school officials in a news release. “The funds represent all of the increase that New Jersey recently granted to Piscataway.”
In the past, “Piscataway and other school districts (have) received less state aid than they are entitled by the State's School Funding Reform Act,” they said.
“According to the funding formula, the Piscataway School District is entitled to over $37 million in state aid for its schools,” officials added. “For many years, the district has not received its fair share of state aid and, as a result, Piscataway taxpayers have paid a disproportionate share of their local taxes for schools, compared to many surrounding towns.”
“Last February, Piscataway was notified it would receive $15,911,190 in state aid for the 2017-18 school year, or just 43 percent of its $37 million entitlement,” said district officials. “Instead, when New Jersey adopted its state budget for fiscal year 2018, the district was allocated an additional $995,236, or 45 percent of its entitlement.”
The increase was part of a legislative effort to shift state aid from districts that are overfunded to districts that are underfunded.
"There was no question in the Board's mind that the additional funding should be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax relief," said William J. Irwin, President of the Piscataway Board of Education. "We are grateful to local taxpayers for making up the state's shortfall for so many years, but that is a burden they should not have to assume. The state should be giving Piscataway its fair share. Nevertheless, we appreciate that state officials and elected representatives have recognized this inequity among towns and school districts. We hope this shift towards fair funding continues in future state budgets."
The tax relief plan means a homeowner of a house assessed at $276,611 would see their school tax decreased from $86.17 for the coming school year to $42.44, said district officials.
"Our school district has always been mindful of the burden placed on local homeowners," said Teresa M. Rafferty, Superintendent of Schools, "and developed budgets that focus spending in the classroom, whether it be laptops, desks, security cameras, or instructional salaries. Our administrative costs, facility costs, and support services are all lower than the state average."
Piscataway spends approximately $17,222 per student, significantly less than many New Jersey towns with similar demographics, said officials.
"There is no question that Piscataway does more with less but we continue to face challenges such as technology costs and the need for facility expansion and improvement," said Rafferty. "We appreciate the support of our local taxpayers and encourage our legislative leaders to continue to focus on the State funding its fair share of our schools."
Although it has been operating on a reduced budget, the news release lists examples of how the school district’s students have brought distinction to the community:
- The Piscataway School District received the Grand Prize in the 2017 Magna Awards sponsored by the National School Boards Association for its Inspire character education program;
- The district received the 2016 School Leader Award from New Jersey School Boards Association for its Biomedical program that enables high school students to earn up to 14 credits at Rutgers University.
- The high school Concert Band and Color Guard each received an ‘Excellent’ rating; and the Wind and Jazz Ensembles both received ‘Superior’ ratings in the nationwide 2017 Festivals of Music in Boston.
- Students in certain subject areas at Piscataway High School simultaneously earn college credit at Rutgers and Rider Universities, and Middlesex County College, saving students on college tuition and giving them a head start on their career paths.
- Sixth grade math students from across all three middle schools competed in the Math League, answering 35 tough questions in a timed 30-minute testing session. The overall high score was achieved by Madeline Wolfson of Schor Middle School.
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