Newark Public Schools May Ask Taxpayers for $1 Billion Bond

March 30, 2023

The Superintendent of the Newark Board of Education may soon ask taxpayers to foot a $1 billion bond in order to upgrade buildings. 

Superintendent Roger Leon made the announcement during a recent school board retreat, surprising observers because of the audacious size of the bond. 

“No other school district has done anything near that,” said Marc Pfeiffer, senior policy fellow at Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. 

Pfeiffer said that while large statewide capital improvement projects for things like transportation have had significantly sized bonds, a bond or series of bonds of this magnitude for a single school district in the state would be absolutely unheard of. 

“It will likely be the largest local government or public school bond in New Jersey if it were to be issued at a billion dollars,” Pfeiffer said.  

Elected officials in Newark said they didn’t know anything about the bond, but want to make sure that taxpayers aren’t saddled with costs that the state’s Schools Development Authority is supposed to take on. 

“My assumption would be, if Newark went out and issued a billion dollars of bonds, the state would pay part of that based on current formulas,” said Richard Keevey, senior policy fellow at Rutgers University, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and visiting lecturer at Princeton University. 

The need for taxpayers to pick up the tab for something that the SDA is supposed to pay was an issue for multiple observers. In 2017, when the Newark school district went out to market with the $30 million bond Leon referenced, the Education Law Center had a strong, negative response. 

TapInto, March 30, 2023

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