Comparisons among districts are an established part of the collective bargaining process. However, there is no “magic” method for selecting comparable districts.
The following are commonly used methods of comparison at the bargaining table and by mediators and factfinders.
Often the only comparisons made are state and/or county comparisons. Unfortunately, these “broad brush” approaches can tend to mask the important distinctions between districts and can sometimes prove disadvantageous to boards. However, there are times when broad county or state comparisons yield the data that best supports a board’s position. In such circumstances, it would certainly benefit a board to highlight the geographic comparisons in bargaining. To assist boards in identifying geographic comparisons on a scale smaller than state comparisons, and larger than county comparisons, the NJSBA has adopted a system, which divides the state into the following five geographic regions:
Region 1 – Sussex , Warren and Hunterdon Counties
Region 2 – Passaic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union and Morris Counties
Region 3 – Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties
Region 4 – Mercer, Burlington and Camden Counties
Region 5 – Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May Counties
Enrollment Group (EG)
Districts are classified as to the size of the student enrollment and grade pattern. The following pattern is reflected in the NDS reports:
EG 1 – K-6 districts
EG 2 – K-8 districts with enrollment 0-400
EG 3 – K-8 districts with enrollment 401-750
EG 4 – K-8 districts with enrollment 751or more
EG 5 – K-12 districts with enrollment 0-1800
EG 6 – K-12 with enrollment 1801-3500
EG 7 – K-12 with enrollment 3,500 or more
EG 8 – Secondary districts
EG 9 – Special Services districts
EG 10 – Vocational districts
District Factor Grouping (DFG)
This measure of the socioeconomic background of the school districts in New Jersey is based upon the District Factor Grouping (DFG) classification developed by the New Jersey Department of Education. Seven social and economic variables, derived from a factor analysis of census data, are used to determine the DFG. The variables used in the composition of the factor are the following:
• Percentage of the district without a high school diploma
• Percentage of the district population with some college
• Occupational background of the district
• Per capita income of the district
• Percent poverty level
• Unemployment rate
• Population density
Districts are ranked according to their scores based upon the above variables and fall into one of the following categories: A, B, CD, DE, FG, GH, I AND J with J containing districts with the highest factor scores. (Example: Newark is “A”; Upper Saddle River is “J”). Vocational districts are placed in a separate category of “V”. Users should also note that districts in the CD, DE, FG, and GH categories cannot be further separated into two categories, such as C and D.
Rather than simple utilization of one of the above as the basis for comparisons, boards can frequently benefit by conducting combined geographic/demographic research. The reports on this website will use the abbreviations above to denote classifications. It may be useful for you to print this page for future reference.