Today’s the day; finally it’s time to vote on the school budget and chose those that we feel will represent the best interests of our children and community here in Middletown. I intend to vote in favor of the budget and for those that have shown that they really care about the future in which our kids are heading and I encourage all that read this blog to do likewise.
We will all vote to either approve or disapprove the school budget for our own reasons. I chose to vote “Yes” on the school budget because as a member of a community that values our children’s future it would be irresponsible for me to do otherwise.
Voting “No” today on the current Board of Education budget proposal will only lead to further cuts to the budget that has already been trimmed by $9.6 million. This budget has been cut to the bare bones, there is nothing left to cut without directly affecting the quality of our kids education.
Those that take Gov. Christie’s advice and vote against any school budget that does not include a teacher’s wage freeze and higher contributions to health care are naive to think that it would make a difference in Middletown.
Governor Christie took $11million dollars worth of state aid away from Middletown, a temporary wage freeze and a 1.5% contribution toward benefits by the teachers in no way would make up for that loss.
Christie is making teachers a scape-goat in his fight against unions and is trying to have local municipalities do for him what he wasn’t able to do on the state level, which is break already negotiated contracts with the unions to circumvent their collective bargaining agreements.
It’s a fight that Middletown students cannot afford to participate in; 124 individuals will be losing their jobs come June, 72 of which are teachers, larger class sizes and the loss of individual attention to students needs are looming.
The Asbury Park Press has an editorial today that asks to “Think before you cast your ballot today” it states:
”…voters should support budgets where districts have worked hard to economize and vote against those where not enough has been done to control costs.” And “…Some districts have worked hard to save taxpayer money all along and should not be punished for it now…” “…If your district made every effort to excise all the fat from the budget, this year and in the past, support it…”
This is the exact case in Middletown; the Board of Education has worked extremely hard over the years to control costs but regardless of those efforts Middletown students are being penalized for other districts excesses.
The editorial concludes with:
“…But bear in mind that a defeated budget will likely amount to little more than a protest vote. The better option may be to take it out on incumbent school board members, replacing them with more fiscally prudent candidates, and putting pressure on state lawmakers to approve reforms that will help contain the salaries and benefits of teachers and all public employees. “
I agree with the first sentence of the above quote, if the Middletown school budget is defeated it will amount to little more than a protest vote due to the fact that the Township Committee will then only make a token effort at spending cuts. But be aware, any more spending cuts to the budget could lead to more teachers being laid off and extracurricular activities being eliminated.
The second part of the quote in general I agree with, however in Middletown that is not the case.
The incumbents on the board of education over the years have done a fine job overseeing the education of our students and they are one of the reasons why Middletown had been voted one of the best places to live in the United States by Forbes Magazine a few years ago.
While I am not officially endorsing candidates for the Board of Education, I believe that you couldn’t vote wrong if you choose all three current members Pat Walsh, Dawn Diorio and Leonora Caminiti for new terms. They have worked extremely hard over the years to ensure our kids receive a quality education while keeping the tax rate one of the lowest in all of Monmouth County. They have continually seen to it that tax rate increases have remained below state mandated caps and have even done a better job at keeping rate increases lower than the Township Committee has done over the past 5 years.
If you decide to use your vote as a protest in order to vote against the budget or for unproven candidates that may have political agendas or ties to Middletown Republican Party and have never even attended a Board of Education meeting than you get what you deserve; a school board that will be crippled by undo political influences and essential services, like after school activities and sports being eliminated.
I don’t want that happening in Middletown, neither should you.