The last time the Jersey City school district made its own decisions George Bush was president, The Cosby Show and Roseanne were the highest-rated shows on TV and the internet didn't exist.

Jersey City schools were returned to local control for the first time in 33 years Wednesday by the state Board of Education after the district passed all its required milestones.

The state took control of Jersey City in 1989 and named a superintendent that made decisions instead of the Board of Education to bring order to the district. The city slowly regained control, including decision-making power for the board in 2010 and full local control for hiring personnel in 2017. But the district superintendent was still designated by the state.

“This is certainly a historic day for Jersey City, and one that I’m glad to see come to fruition,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “After 33 years, I’m proud to see that full decision-making authority has been restored to the local board of education in Jersey City. Moreover, I’m confident the community will continue to rally around their students to ensure that every child in Jersey City has access to a world-class education.”

The final step was a report from the Comprehensive Accountability Office submitted to the State Board of Education and two Highly Skilled Professionals, Dr. Stephen Cowan and Dr. Alexis Colander.

"In light of their reports confirming the district has successfully met the necessary benchmarks to return to local control, the State Board of Education approved a resolution to return control of the district to the Jersey City Board of Education," Murphy said.

The state also took over Paterson schools in 1991, which earned local control in January 2021. Newark schools were taken over in 1995 with local control restored in 2020 after certain benchmarks were met.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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