Will regionalization cut K-12 administrative costs and lower property taxes?

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

If you’re living in a moderate-sized New Jersey school district, Save Jerseyans, you can expect that roughly $15 of every $100 isn’t making it to the classroom.

downloadWhere’s it going? Administrative costs.

Not text books, smart boards, teacher’s pensions or school lunches. We’re spending big money on individuals who, in many cases, exert a minimal impact on the actual instruction of our children.

Two veteran Republican state senators believe it’s even worse than that and, unsurprisingly, I’m inclined to agree.

“In a state where there are more school districts than municipalities, regionalization has enormous potential to bolster educational programs and reduce New Jersey’s nation-high property tax burden,” Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) explained. “Exploring solutions to create efficient, sustainable school systems will help us understand how we can best serve the growing needs of our students and communities.”

Senator Bateman is co-sponsoring S-177 with Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13).

Kip Bateman
Kip Bateman

The goal? Create a “task force” to do the following (in their words):

  • Review existing research, studies, and data concerning the regionalization of school districts;
  • Identify challenges associated with the regionalization of school districts including financing of feasibility studies, issues associated with school district governance and financing, and the integration of curriculum, programs and staff;
  • Identify and review benefits of regionalization including potential cost savings and the ability to offer a wider array of educational programs, services and extracurricular activities;
  • Identify incentives to encourage school districts to regionalize as well as obstacles that discourage school districts from entering into regional school district arrangements.

“More than half of New Jersey’s property tax dollars go to funding the state’s 600 school districts, including the more than 100 districts that contain only one school,” Kyrillos added. “Identifying the challenges and benefits of consolidating school districts brings us one step closer to providing much-needed relief for hardworking taxpayers across the Garden State.”

Joe Kyrillos
Joe Kyrillos

The discussion is long-overdue, folks. We’re spending almost $20,000 per year, on average, for every K-12 New Jersey public school pupil. To what end? A recent study we’ve discussed here at Save Jersey found 30% of 114 New Jersey high schools where at least 80% of kids took the SAT saw roughly half of those SAT-takers post a less-than-college ready score.

Said another way: the taxpayers’ aren’t getting a return on their dollar.

Cutting administrative fat (keep in mind – we’ve got scores of these people making $200,000+ for shuffling papers while teachers do the hard work) is a good first step. Regionalization is one way to accomplish downsizing. But does consolidation – as opposed to straight-up downsizing – risk further diminishing local control over education?

Let’s hear from you in the comments section below…

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4 thoughts on “Will regionalization cut K-12 administrative costs and lower property taxes?

  1. This appears to be a no-brainer, imagine the added overhead of 565 municipalities and over 600 School boards! Now what about those 200K salaries of police chiefs with under 50 uniforms?

  2. Screw regionalization – all it does is centralize the incompetence. You need to abolish ALL public sector unions – including the so-called “teachers’ unions.”

  3. All this proposes are more state mandates and more state spending for studies. Many of the small school districts have unpaid administrators and have lower costs. The districts with the highest expenses per student are the largest ones. They are the failed urban districts which are rife with corruption since they spend tax money sent to them from the rest of us. Remove the state supreme court and state legislative mandates on how schools can share resources or merge and stop sending our tax money to the failed and corrupt city schools. Let students from failed urban schools take the spending allocated to them and attend any schools that will accept them public or private. All these proposals about regionalization are is a distraction from the real issues.

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