Open Letter from Middletown BOE President Laura Agin Requesting Residents To Support This Years School Budget

To all the Middletown residents who will go the polls on April 20, I implore you to vote YES for the school budget. As a result of significant reductions in state aid to school districts, severe cuts are already included in the 2010-11 budget. The budget was developed with significant input from community stakeholders and their suggestions were incorporated into the difficult choices that were made. No area was left untouched.

Middletown has strived for efficiency. We have continually sought fiscally responsible ways to improve on the way we deliver instruction. We have developed programs to keep students in district thereby reducing costly out of district tuitions. We implemented, and will continue, full day kindergarten with the overwhelming support of the community at no additional cost to the taxpayers by strategically restructuring teaching assignments. We have decreased the need for support staff by introducing best practice instructional models in our elementary and middle schools while, at the same time, increasing overall test scores at these levels. We are continuing our efforts to implement the state mandated High School Redesign model at little or no cost to our community.

Middletown has tackled tough issues. We have already achieved cost savings by eliminating traditional insurance plans and increasing employee contributions to health care premiums. We have negotiated caps for accrued sick and vacation time. We have no bogus doctorates and we can assure that no employee of the Middletown school district will retire with a “Golden Parachute”. We are well ahead of the curve.

Despite these efficiencies, significant cuts ($10 million) are included in the Middletown school budget for 2010-11. These have been presented in forums, reported in the local media and outlined on our website so I will not reiterate them here. I do feel, however, that I must address what has become an election target: Administrative Excess. Middletown has, over the years, continuously evaluated and restructured the administrative team based on ever-changing, district -wide needs. It is the administration who brings new initiatives to the district, develops ways to improve instruction, provides training and staff development and supervises the delivery of curriculum. With more than 10,000 students in 17 schools, good administration directly impacts students in the classroom and is required to ensure continuity and equity for all students. Our administrator to student ratio has been, and will continue to be, among the lowest in the county and well below the state average. As in all other areas of the budget, however, we will do more with less. This budget includes the elimination of 15% of the administrative staff in the district.

As community members come to me to speak about our budget, I know there is anger and frustration about what is happening to our schools. No one likes to see cuts of this magnitude. We have tried very hard to make reductions as equitable as possible in all areas without significantly impacting students in the classroom. Be angry, but don’t let that anger get in the way of good judgment. Let this be the worst-case scenario. A defeat to the budget will only bring further cuts to staffing, educational programs and extracurricular activities and the things that make you angry will not have changed. I am not asking you to like this budget but to vote YES because it is the best thing we can do for our children and our community. Our town is measured by the quality of our educational programs. Now is the time to come together as a community and continue to take pride in who we are.

Laura Agin
Middletown Township Board of Education


Filed under budget cuts, Laura Agin, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown NJ, open letter, school budgets

7 responses to “Open Letter from Middletown BOE President Laura Agin Requesting Residents To Support This Years School Budget

  1. Is she for real? They allowed teacher cuts and taking from kids. Where were cuts to the administration, superintendents, pricipals? Why not add anoter 1.5 percent contribution to healtcare benefits? Get real-it's 2010Vote a big fat NO to the budget.

  2. This years school budget calls for a 15% reduction in administrative staff.And the BOE can not just pass along a 1.5% increase in health care contributions to the teachers.Teachers are under contract until next year and changes in the contract have to be negotiated through collective bargaining.If the teachers were not willing to reopen their contract this year to accommodate Gov. Christie then there was nothing that the BOE could do about it.

  3. 2 weeks go I lost my job. This is twice in 5 years time.The MT Teachers and the BOE both need to wake up, and look at the unemployment statistics.Our taxes can not go up any higher, time to cut, deeper!!I'm voting NO for the budget!!

  4. To all the anonymous above, where would you cut? Do you even know how much was cut already from adminstration to custodians? You don't understand…NOTHING can be done to the current contracts with teachers. They are bound by law to honor them and that includes healthcare benefits untill the contracts are negotiated in 2011.Maybe then the NJEA will be facing a reality check.You think things are bad now, just wait if the budget fails. Everything under the sun will be cut to make up the difference. Don't start crying then, it will be too late. Get your facts straight before you make the wrong conclusions and decisions.

  5. I am not a professional educator, but I am / was a business man. I would MUCH rather have to deal with a minor cut in "revenue" vs. my 100% reduction in total compensation. That said, the analogy still holds true, any / all discretionary costs need to be evaluated, and where possible eliminated. In our case, we can not ignore our mortgage, so we still try to pay it, but cable TV was disconnected on day 1.I would have hoped our BOE did the same type of analysis. From what I have read so far, most cuts have been the easy ones, non-tenured teachers for example.Does anyone know where a detailed copy of the '10-'11 budget can be reviewed? The current, public domain information, lacks the "Specifics" to try to make any educated recommendation. But I would hope our professional educators have both the knowledge, and access to the line items to make such a recommendation. It is still my opinion, that the budget we are all going to vote on 4/20, lacks such a rigorous review.Does anyone know, for example, if an outside professional was brought in to perform such a cost reduction analysis?Hopefully, after the budget is turned down, someone will conduct such a rigorous,independent review.

  6. Every contract is made to be broken

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