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New Jersey Suburbs of Philadelphia Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Salem County in South Jersey
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Unread 12-24-2010, 07:17 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
12,047 posts, read 10,775,017 times
Reputation: 3765
Quote:
Originally Posted by soug View Post
No I understand that, I just don't get which argument you are making. Are you saying that parts of South Jersey got less funding because they were seen as being below the Mason-Dixon Line? I'm just confused as to what you are trying to say.
It was just an aside.

The OP is new to South Jersey. I lived there for over 40 years. Part of my answer was learn the history of South Jersey. I made that aside, because I assumed that the OP was not going to shuffle off to the library, but would start asking people. If he gets the right people (Baby boomers, like myself, & older), the Mason-Dixon line is going to come up over & over. If I had a penny for every time I heard the Mason-Dixon line come up in converstions on just about every topic under the sun, I'd be a wealthy woman.
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Unread 12-24-2010, 08:56 PM
 
398 posts, read 122,167 times
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It's a shame the school districts were never consolidated. Right now all it takes is a downward trend in one borough or township to bring the property values down. If the districts were county-wide, funding would be more evenly distributed and it really wouldn't matter if you lived in Voorhees, or Lindenwold, or Pennsauken, or Cherry Hill because the schools throughout the entire county would maintain some a certain level of quality. Sure you would still have some richer schools with better test scores but it would be more equal overall. It would also cost a lot less because you only hire one superintendent, maintain one (albeit larger) fleet of school buses, negotiate one contract for textbooks, etc. These individual municipal entities were probably a great thing 100 years ago when life was simpler and they gave the citizens better access to their government by keeping it small and localized. But in the modern world do we really need dozens of boroughs and townships in the same county each which their own "Special Response Unit," their own building inspectors, superintendents, etc. NJ needs to consolidate their school districts and police and cut the tax rates in half. I can't afford to stay in this state and once I graduate I am out of here. Not because I don't like it here, but because I just plain can't afford it. We can't shove a family of four into a small apartment... we need a house. But living in a modest 4 bedroom older home, we've had to cut our expenses down bigtime just to afford the taxes... and don't get me started on the healthcare premiums in this state!
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Unread 12-24-2010, 09:42 PM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
12,047 posts, read 10,775,017 times
Reputation: 3765
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northbound81 View Post
It's a shame the school districts were never consolidated. Right now all it takes is a downward trend in one borough or township to bring the property values down. If the districts were county-wide, funding would be more evenly distributed and it really wouldn't matter if you lived in Voorhees, or Lindenwold, or Pennsauken, or Cherry Hill because the schools throughout the entire county would maintain some a certain level of quality. Sure you would still have some richer schools with better test scores but it would be more equal overall. It would also cost a lot less because you only hire one superintendent, maintain one (albeit larger) fleet of school buses, negotiate one contract for textbooks, etc. These individual municipal entities were probably a great thing 100 years ago when life was simpler and they gave the citizens better access to their government by keeping it small and localized. But in the modern world do we really need dozens of boroughs and townships in the same county each which their own "Special Response Unit," their own building inspectors, superintendents, etc. NJ needs to consolidate their school districts and police and cut the tax rates in half. I can't afford to stay in this state and once I graduate I am out of here. Not because I don't like it here, but because I just plain can't afford it. We can't shove a family of four into a small apartment... we need a house. But living in a modest 4 bedroom older home, we've had to cut our expenses down bigtime just to afford the taxes... and don't get me started on the healthcare premiums in this state!
You missed one. Camden
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Unread 12-25-2010, 10:13 AM
 
Location: NJ
17,580 posts, read 16,445,450 times
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Everyone wants consolidation. Just not THEIR town. The fact is that people don't want to give up the control they currently have. Little fiefdoms have been built up and they aren't going to give them up without a fight.

Plus you are most likely talking about a short term increase in costs related to consolidation. And no one wants that either.
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Unread 12-25-2010, 10:28 AM
 
Location: The place where the road & the sky collide
12,047 posts, read 10,775,017 times
Reputation: 3765
Quote:
Originally Posted by manderly6 View Post
Everyone wants consolidation. Just not THEIR town. The fact is that people don't want to give up the control they currently have. Little fiefdoms have been built up and they aren't going to give them up without a fight.

Plus you are most likely talking about a short term increase in costs related to consolidation. And no one wants that either.
My parents' generation fought consolidation because it would have involved Camden. They knew that it cost them more money to keep the little fiefdoms & were willing to pay it. This was not about race, although the feds were in there raising that issue. No one ever said a word about Lawnside. It was about Camden being a black hole for money & no one felt that it would be financially feasible to upgrade the schools there. As an Abbott district, that's been proven.
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Unread 12-26-2010, 06:57 AM
 
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My kids attend a school district that was consolidated in the '60s or '70s to promote socio-economic diversity. Yes, our taxes are significantly lower than NJ. But, there are a lot of problems that come with the larger school district.

Bussing is a huge issue. Students spend an average of 45 minutes each way on the bus while being bussed past 3 or 4 other schools closer to their homes. My son's bus was involved in an accident last year so they combined bus routes. We ended up driving him because there weren't enough seats and 10-15 students had to sit on the floors in the aisles every day. If there are no activity busses (being cut due to budget), parents have to be able to pick up their kids from sports, music, band, clubs, etc, or the student doesn't get to participate. If your child is bussed 45 minutes from home and you work in the opposite direction, chances are s/he can't participate in extra curriculars.

There are schools that don't meet academic standards for a lot of reasons. Only a certain percentage of students is bussed, so a school in an upper middle class neighborhood has mostly upper middle class students. When budgets are cut, parents donate a lot school supplies (I spend > $500/yr/child on school supplies). Parents in lower socio-economic areas can't be expected to spend that amount of money on school supplies. If the teachers don't have supplies, they can't teach as effectively.

I guess I'm saying there is no easy answer.
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Unread 12-27-2010, 09:23 AM
 
398 posts, read 122,167 times
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I would never support busing to maintain racial diversity in schools. Kids should go to the nearest school period, preferably one they can walk to. Busing is a bad idea concept especially with the rising cost of fuel. It sounds like the school district has other problems if they can't get a replacement bus when one goes out of commission.

I think Camden is going to have to be a part of any consolidated school district. The school district should be countywide. Camden City is only about 80,000 people in a county of over half a million. It will never happen, because the U.S. is designed for the rich to control the political process, and the rich want their exclusive school districts and to hell with everyone else.
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Unread 12-28-2010, 08:24 AM
 
Location: South Jersey
7,789 posts, read 8,545,238 times
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Bussing does NOT work.. Let me repeat that.. IT DOES NOT WORK. All it does is to ruin good schools with kids that do not care to learn. I can attest to this first hand when we used to live in Philly. Why do you think charter schools in Philly are doing so well over there?? Why do you think Lincoln HS in the NE knocked the original school down and build a new SMALLER school? So that they would not have to participate in bussing and only take the neighborhood kids.. Parents pay more taxes for good areas and schools to send their kids too and people who pay much less taxes get the send their kids to the same school? The only people who think bussing works are the disillusioned liberals.. PERIOD.
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Unread 12-28-2010, 09:47 AM
 
13,556 posts, read 13,320,928 times
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A lot of the main issues have already been touched on, but there are really two drivers to your local property taxes:

1. Schools: If you look at your tax bill, the largest chunk and generally the biggest increases are all tied to schools. The actual town budget is usually pretty small and generally doesn't have large increases. The reason why school budgets are so out of whack, all goes back to the Abbott ruling. The state of NJ spends half of the state budget on education. However, 85+% of that money goes directly to 31 districts that are defined as poor performers that are socio-economically burdened. That means that the local municipalities are pretty much fully on the hook for paying for their own schools. So, you suburban tax payer get to pay for the schools in those 31 Abbott districts and get to pay the full boat on your own schools. Some studies have cited that eliminating Abbott and distributing that money equally would result in almost a 40% decrease in local school taxes. This backed up as you can almost see the rise in property taxes across the state beginning in 1985 when Abbott was enacted.

2. Ratables: The majority of towns in certain areas have very small non-residential ratable bases. This is especially true in Camden County. This is a result of NIMBYism and the build out of housing versus commercial property. Even in townships like Cherry Hill the actual percentage of non-residential ratables is very low. This simply places the entire burden of local budgets on residents with no way of off loading some of those onto businesses. There is no clearer cut case of this than in my area. I live in Logan Twp. and pay one of the lowest property tax rates in the state, yet still have good services and schools. The reason is there are a couple large industrial complexes in the township. The other local towns such as Woolwich and Swedesboro have virtually no ratables outside of residential properties and their taxes are almost 40% higher than what people in Logan pay despite everything being equal.

I personally think consolidation is a good idea in some areas and can drive some significant savings, but I think overturning Abbott and giving local towns more negotiating strength with unions and services providers will go a long way to providing relief. It is afterall, proven that states with municipal and school structures like we have in NJ, provide better services and have the best school systems in the country, so it does work.

The other things that you are talking about are certainly factors as well, but maybe not as much as you think. Many towns already share services from trash collection to even policing. The inspector you mentioned is often employed on a part time or contract basis by several different local towns. As for the "special response equipment" you can thank the Department of Homeland Security for that. Towns were given the opportunity to receive grants to purchase that type of equipment. It was a take or leave it proposition. So, the towns jumped at the "free" money and got what they could. I assure you that before 9/11 that type of equipment was all county based if it existed at all.
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Unread 12-28-2010, 12:22 PM
 
1,869 posts, read 1,382,289 times
Reputation: 941
Consolidated school districts is different from consolidated/regional schools.
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