I wasn’t able to attend last night’s community forum that was presented by the Middletown Board of Education to discuss the effects that planned State budget cuts will have on the school district because I had to work last night. I was pleasantly surprise though to see that the Asbury Park Press wasted no time in posting the below article last night after the meeting.
I want to commend the Board of Ed for coming up with a plan so quickly that addresses this budget huge crisis. I am sure that it was not easy but they seemed to attack the problem head on and made some very hard choices to balance its budget without effecting to many programs that the kids rely on, which is more than I can say about how Middletown’s Township Committee is planning to handle its $7 million budget shortfall
MIDDLETOWN — According to the school district, big cuts are on their way for the coming budget year, including layoffs, as well as a tax increase, due to a reduction in state aid.
On March 4, the school district hosted a forum to discuss the repercussions of the governor’s state aid cuts, and how it will affect the school’s fiscal state for the 2010-11 budget. Business administrator Bill Doering said $2.8 million will be absent, in surplus and capital reserve funds, for the remainder of the current fiscal year, as a result of state aid being withheld to combat a state budget shortfall of $2.2 billion.
That money will not be available to be rolled over into the 2010-11 budget, and Doering said that in order to keep the 2010-11 tax increase at 2.9 percent, the three year average for budget increases, $4.3 million will need to be cut from that budget.
Bilbao presented slides to a crowded auditorium, showing large cuts across several areas — 36 teaching staff members must be cut — 18 at the elementary level, and nine each at the middle and high school levels — for a savings of $2,340,000.
Those staffing cuts would likely increases class sizes, pushing elementary class sizes into the 20s, and into the 30s at the high school, Bilbao said.
Additionally, two administrator positions will be cut for a savings of $210,000; 18 paraprofessionals will be cut for a savings of $340,000; four secretaries will be cut for a savings of $160,000; and four staffers in facilities will be cut to save $217,000 — the overall savings for personnel cuts would be $3,267,000, she said.
Other personnel reductions, including stipends, substitute teacher rated, and extended detention, would be cut, for a total savings of $383,000, Bilbao said.
Additionally, $700,000 in discretionary funding, which would handicap the replacement of textbooks, uniforms, supplies, and the expansion of technology initiatives, she said.
The total cuts for the coming year total $4,350,000, a “staggering” number Bilbao said.
Questions from the public were taken on index cards to be answered by a panel, including Bilbao, Doering, Executive County Superintendent Carole Knopp Morris, and several elected officials.
Moderator Marie Curtis, of the League of Women Voters, said many of the questions reflected concern over the teacher layoffs, some saying that administrator cuts were preferred instead. Other questions reflected whether or not the district has considered wage freezes for all staff district wide, or if the state has considered the rising cost of unemployment insurance that would result from the aid cuts. Bilbao said a wage freeze isn’t possible due to contract obligations.