The cost of education

January 27, 2010 3:10:57 PM PST
With the cost of education, a lot of the money for school districts comes from property taxes. New Jersey Department of Education commissioner Lucille Davy has worked under three governors, and works everyday for the 1.4 million public school kids in the state.

It's no small task, and comes with a pretty big price tag.

A lot of that money comes from your property taxes.

"In some places the education portion of your property tax bill is about half, because there is also the county and municipality portion. But in other districts it is 60 percent or more," said Davy.

In New Jersey, you pay for public education mostly out of your property tax bill.

How much you pay depends on where you live, and the wealth of your area.

Wealth is decided by property value and average income.

The biggest change in the cost of education over the last 4 decades the commissioner says, came two years ago when the DOE went all the way to the Supreme Court to get the right to send state aid to the districts that need it the most. The more state aid a district gets, the less it has to raise locally.

In theory, that could lower your property tax bill.

Over the 2008-2009 school year, the state handed out $8 billion in aid.

No surprise that Newark, the largest city in the state received the most, about $714 million. Paterson got $389 million, Dover, $20 million and Carlstatd, a little more than $443,000.

The number is directly tied to the size of the district and the number of 'at risk kids', which is the state's term for kids living in poverty.

As for how much the state says it should cost to educate a student this school year, the numbers go up along with the grade level.

For an elementary school student, $9,971 for one year. Middle school, $10,370, and high school $11,666.

Those numbers go up when you add in the amount of at risk kids in a district.

Commissioner Davy says New Jersey spends more than most, if not all states on its public school kids.

And that is paying off, her grade for the public education system in the garden state is an A- or B+ she says.