Atlantic City Casino Closures Causing School Funding Crisis

For decades, the casino industry has promoted itself as a funding mechanism to boost public education.

Atlantic City certainly heard that sales pitch during a 1978 referendum on casinos.

And now we have come full circle on that promise, with Gov. Chris Christie’s Administration appointing a state manager, Gary P. McCartney, to oversee Atlantic City’s crumbling schools.

He will join a team of emergency managers assigned by Christie in January to prevent Atlantic City from becoming the next Detroit, the largest American city to declare bankruptcy. With the implosion of the casino industry, Atlantic City has descended into such economic chaos that it is incapable of handling its own affairs.

The city’s property tax base has crumbled with the casinos, going from $20.4 billion in 2010 to $11.3 billion in 2014. Even a 29 percent property tax increase on residents can’t save it.

Atlantic City has an unemployment rate approaching 18 percent, and a violent crime rate that is one of the highest in New Jersey. And it has become a drag on New Jersey’s economy and Gov. Christie’s presidential aspirations.

The casino industry promised a down-and-out city in 1978 that it would bring an economic rebirth. But the city never shared in what transpired on the Boardwalk. Now the damage is being felt in the city’s schools.


February 19, 2015 

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration announced a state monitor to oversee Atlantic City schools for one year.

Commissioner of Education David C. Hespe announced the appointment of Dr. Gary P. McCartney as state monitor as the district goes through an unprecedented fiscal challenge.

“It became clear that the best way for Atlantic City and the state to collaboratively address the school’s fiscal woes would be for the state to establish an ongoing presence in the district itself,” the Commissioner said. “It’s a commitment that we’re proud to make.”

In recent years, Atlantic City’s property tax base has crumbled, from $20.4 billion in 2010 to $11.3 billion in 2014, according to a news release.

The falling tax revenue means the city has struggled to pay for school services.

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