Wednesday afternoon School Districts all over the state learned how much state aid they could expect from Trenton this year, some districts had all state aid withheld while other had little to no aid cut from their budgets.
In Middletown’s case more than $7.2 million or roughly 34% has been cut from state aid, which is on top of the loss of over $2.8 million in surplus funds that Gov. Christie instructed the school system to use earlier this month to make up for the difference in aid that would not be coming to finish out the school year.
At last nights Board of Education meeting, the Board was suppose to unveil its proposed budget for the upcoming school year but could not due to the latest announcement.
Earlier this month, the Board already announced the layoff of 36 teachers, 18 paraprofessionals,2 administrators, 4 secretaries and 4 facilities staffers as a result of the aid cut, now what is the school district suppose to due about this latest announced aid cut that will amount to an $11 million hole in it’s budget, how many more staff members will Middletown lose as a result? I would think doubling the amount of staff cuts would be the starting point.
How many teachers, administrators and support staff will have to be let go? Will a school somewhere in the district have to be closed? If so, which one and what will that do to class sizes throughout the district. Class size averages about 22 kids per class right now, will class size increase to 35 or more per classroom?
How about after school programs and extra-curricular activities? Will sports programs be cut, what will Middletown do without football, soccer, wrestling, field hockey or other sports to keep the community and kids active, involved and engaged in school spirit, self-worth and education?
Gov. Christie doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about how these cuts in aid will effect the education of Middletown students or students in other school districts receive. It seems that all he is concerned about is breaking the back of the NJEA and its members, with little regard for the collateral damage that he will cause in the process.
Christie has told school districts across the state that there should be no need to cut programs or teachers to balance their budgets, he has stated to them that in essence, all a school district needs to do is break existing teacher contracts by freeze pending contractual teacher salary increase and imposing higher health care co-pays on the NJEA members. Which makes a lot of sense since Christie himself realized that he couldn’t do the same thing to state workers in order to balance the State’s budget.
Other than breaking the backs of the public unions in this state, which I’ll admit need to be overhauled in someway, Christie is going after the public education system in order to push his plans for Charter School vouchers and school choice.
Both he and his Education Secretary Bret Schundler, are advocates for Charter Schools even though it has been shown that charter schools often have worse track records at teaching our kids than public schools have.
Charter schools are for profit operations that do not always make the right decisions for children based on education standards, they make decisions that effect their bottom line and in so doing the quality of education suffers. Statistics show that for each charter school that has some success 2 or more fail and go out of business.
Is that what New Jerseyians really want for their kids education, a weakened public education system that will drive children to a possibly inferior Charter School? I don’t think so, residents for the most part believe in the public school system and feel that it is an important institution that needs to be maintained.
It may not be perfect but neither are most Charter Schools that are more interested in their bottom line than the overall quality of their education.
This latest announcement of cuts in State aid to education will have devastating effects on Middletown and other municipalities through out Monmouth County and the State.