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Old 07-04-2007, 05:09 PM
 
6 posts, read 44,551 times
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Hi, I'm looking to move my family into NJ or NY from Richmond, VA. I will be working in Manhattan. The cost of housing difference between Richmond (below national average) to NJ/NY still gives me pause.

My wife and I have done fairly thorough research on Westchester in terms of narrowing down property tax rates, total $ spent per kid in various villages within Westchester, average SAT scores, and so forth. We've included Port Washington too as the only non-Westchester town.

Because of Westchester's expense we're hoping NJ is more competitive. We're looking to do the same sort of research in Essex and Bergen County for these towns: Millburn, Ridgewood, Park Ridge, and GlenRock with additions/removals to come as experience dictates.

I'm happy to exchange my Westchester information with those who can provide me with missing data for NJ. I'm willing to spend time on the phone too exchanging experiences at looking at houses --- we've seen around 30+ houses throughout Westchester and around eight in Port Washington. We're scheduled to see 8-10 in NJ next weekend.

Things that are difficult to come by:
* property tax rates: it's virtually impossible to find hard numbers and yet this is the first question new comers have. I have some numbers for Westchester and hints on numbers for NJ both based on county/state documents. Without such data one is forced to jump from one rabbit hole to the next as a Realtor shows you a single MLS sheet with est. tax data. Perspective house buyers want to exclude (include) vast swaths of the state based on property tax outliers. After all, time is money.

Things that are difficult to reconcile:
* It's common knowledge that Washington DC spends the most amount of dollars per child in public schools. If memory serves this figure is at about $12000/pupil/year. Meanwhile I received several articles on schools in Westchester and similar data for Port Washington NY which suggests their public schools spend $14-23K/pupil/year. Of this about $7-12K/pupil/year is spent putting a teacher in front of kids. If true, Washington DC isn't even close to the highest. Putting aside the whys and wherefores and ignoring for the moment that money alone cannot solve all education problems, do these Westchester numbers sound right? By comparison NJ Essex and Bergen counties spend about $7K/pupil/year putting a teacher in front of kids i.e. about half of what Westchester does. Even more amazing is what Westchester spends on special education kids --- such as my youngest son: Westchester spends between $21-50K/pupil/year on simply putting teachers/specialists/therapists in front of special education students. My Westchester data is based on NY state education data.

* True or false: In Westchester preschool is free.

* True or false: If one lives in NJ but works in NY then one must pay NY state income taxes and all NJ state income taxes are effectively zeroed through a NJ state credit. That is, a NJ resident effectively pays no/zero NJ state taxes and pays NY state taxes of approximately 7%.

Based on my experience so far Westchester provides better schools. I've spoken with several Westchester school people about enrolling my kids and dealing with my special education needs. Westchester representatives were actually helpful, informative, and didn't throw up 21 million barriers to getting service. They came across as actually interested in getting results with the least amount of hassle. Westchester has done the most work in the most ways to provide me with specific data on schools in terms of dollars spent, grades earned, Regent's passed, and so forth.

NJ housing seems lower. The taxes seems lower. But not that much lower. I still need to research it out. Based on the numbers I have Westchester outspends NJ Essex and Bergen counties 2:1 for only marginally higher property taxes. And NJ presents far more obstacles in dealing with special education and would require me to pay for preschool.

Port Washington has the same nice schools as Westchester, however, I don't think one's housing dollars go as far there. There's less room for recovery. That is, if Port Washington turned out not to be a nice fit, surrounding areas are even more costly. In West Chester one can find a house in the $700-850K range almost anywhere without worrying about a precipitous drop in education quality. One only has to avoid the high tax districts like BriarCliff.

Comments/questions/rebuttals? Post away.
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Old 07-04-2007, 05:51 PM
 
Location: NJ/NY
9,598 posts, read 9,464,946 times
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Some of your data is a little flawed. Newark, NJ spends the most per student in the country at 17k and change. Proving that how much you spend has no bearing on how good the education is. (Newark is one of the worst school systems in NJ)

Also, NJ ranked second in the nation for public schools this year. MA was 1st. NY was 25th in the nation.

And 3rd, NJ property taxes are the highest in the nation.
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Old 07-04-2007, 07:01 PM
 
6 posts, read 44,551 times
Reputation: 21
Default Westchester v. NJ (Bergen/Essex Co.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by eskmd View Post
Some of your data is a little flawed. Newark, NJ spends the most per student in the country at 17k and change. Proving that how much you spend has no bearing on how good the education is. (Newark is one of the worst school systems in NJ)

Also, NJ ranked second in the nation for public schools this year. MA was 1st. NY was 25th in the nation.

And 3rd, NJ property taxes are the highest in the nation.
As I say in my original post, money isn't everything. There is a point of diminishing returns. Further, spending too much can just advance sloth, sniffiness, and all manner of poor management.

On the $17K claim: I can point to recent published pieces using NYSED data. With that in mind, Westchester outspends NJ on average. The $17 figure you quote is the supremum value (see http://www.state.nj.us/education/guide/2007/k-12.pdf for yourself) for one of the school zones. NJ actually spends $21K/pupil/year in other places. But average is more like $12K. Westchester spends that alone just for the teacher per pupil per year in many of the most well known places like Rye, Scaresdale, and so forth.

You appear to contradict yourself in your remarks --- but I may not understand your intended meaning. According to your remarks NJ is:
* among the worst performing schools
* spends among the most money or is the highest spender
* and yet ranks NJ ahead of NY

Probably all or most of this true. Despite America's penchant for claiming equality under the law and so forth and so on, America is perverse in its educational inequality. Within each state there is tremendous dispersion between the high and low performers making it very difficult to compare locations. It's this kind of dispersion that allows for a jumble of figures pointing to success and failure and its attendant costs.

Although I did not check it out myself, I am not surprised NJ is the 3rd highest property tax locale in the nation. The other two have to be Westchester and Nassau --- I mean let's face it. And while I think Westchester suffers from some of the same redundancy, union inertia, and so forth just like NJ as pointed out in other threads, Westchester seems to do better with its tax money than NJ. The differences between them and Westchester isn't obvious.
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Old 07-04-2007, 08:16 PM
 
Location: 32082/07716/10028
1,346 posts, read 1,570,883 times
Reputation: 167
Quote:
Originally Posted by gshanemiller View Post
As I say in my original post, money isn't everything. There is a point of diminishing returns. Further, spending too much can just advance sloth, sniffiness, and all manner of poor management.

On the $17K claim: I can point to recent published pieces using NYSED data. With that in mind, Westchester outspends NJ on average. The $17 figure you quote is the supremum value (see http://www.state.nj.us/education/guide/2007/k-12.pdf for yourself) for one of the school zones. NJ actually spends $21K/pupil/year in other places. But average is more like $12K. Westchester spends that alone just for the teacher per pupil per year in many of the most well known places like Rye, Scaresdale, and so forth.

You appear to contradict yourself in your remarks --- but I may not understand your intended meaning. According to your remarks NJ is:
* among the worst performing schools
* spends among the most money or is the highest spender
* and yet ranks NJ ahead of NY

Probably all or most of this true. Despite America's penchant for claiming equality under the law and so forth and so on, America is perverse in its educational inequality. Within each state there is tremendous dispersion between the high and low performers making it very difficult to compare locations. It's this kind of dispersion that allows for a jumble of figures pointing to success and failure and its attendant costs.

Although I did not check it out myself, I am not surprised NJ is the 3rd highest property tax locale in the nation. The other two have to be Westchester and Nassau --- I mean let's face it. And while I think Westchester suffers from some of the same redundancy, union inertia, and so forth just like NJ as pointed out in other threads, Westchester seems to do better with its tax money than NJ. The differences between them and Westchester isn't obvious.
the first thing you need to learn about NJ is that there are 566 municipalities and almost as many school districts and that one size does not fit all.
tax rates are different in every town, schools are different in every town.
You just cannot generalize things like taxes and schools in NJ
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:04 AM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
2,806 posts, read 14,967,984 times
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Yeah I'd agree you're making a lot of blanket statements about both Westchester and NJ. You'll have to remember that while Westchester does include a lot of ultra-rich towns like Scarsdale & Bronxville, the majority of people in the county live in more middle-class areas like Yonkers, Mt. Venon, New Rochelle, and White Plains. The schools in these towns aren't anywhere nearly as good.

The same thing applies for NJ. You keep on saying Essex county. Well Essex county contains both some of the richester and poorest towns in America. You have Millburn as a very wealthy town, and then drive a couple of minutes and you'll end up in Central Newark which is a fairly run down section of Newark.

Generally you will find that out of Westchester, Nassau, and Bergen/Essex counties, the property taxes are worst in Westchester, then comes Nassau, and then comes NJ.

Is there a real difference in the quality of education between a town like Millburn and a town like Scarsdale? I mean sure, Scarsdale, I'm sure, ranks higher, but I doubt that there is a noticeable difference in the quality of education in these areas.

The real difference in my mind is that a lot of these really rich areas of Westchester county have turned their high rankings educationally into almost an industry. There are a lot of transients in these rich towns in Westchester because people will often move there solely for the schools (or until their next business transfer) and as soon as their kids are out of the schools, they will downsize where they are living. In NJ, for better or worse, you are more likely to find a sense of community where people have been living in a town for a generation or two.
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Old 07-05-2007, 04:02 PM
 
Location: NJ/NY
9,598 posts, read 9,464,946 times
Reputation: 6725
Quote:
Originally Posted by gshanemiller View Post
Although I did not check it out myself, I am not surprised NJ is the 3rd highest property tax locale in the nation. The other two have to be Westchester and Nassau --- I mean let's face it. And while I think Westchester suffers from some of the same redundancy, union inertia, and so forth just like NJ as pointed out in other threads, Westchester seems to do better with its tax money than NJ. The differences between them and Westchester isn't obvious.
I guess the point of the post was not taken.

NJ is a STATE!

Not a county, or a municipality or "locale". It is a state. You keep comparing the state of NJ to towns and counties in NY, so I am showing you a comparison on a state to state level.

If you want to compare apples to apples, compare the state of NJ to the state of NY.

Again, public schools in the state of NJ are ranked #2, while the state of NY is ranked #25.

NJ is the state with the highest property taxes in the nation. It is unfortunate, but we are #1, not #3.

If you wish to compare towns or counties TO EACH OTHER, fine, but NJ is a state. That is why your comparisons dont work.



And BTW, I never said NJ has a poor school system. In fact, quite the contrary, we have the best...on average. I said NEWARK has a poor school system. Newark is just 1 city in the STATE!

Last edited by AnesthesiaMD; 07-05-2007 at 04:21 PM..
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