Daily Archives: May 26, 2010

How Many Emails Did Middletown Receive When It Requested Resident Input Into Defeated School Budget? Not Close To 700 That Scharfenberger Stated

Well it seems that Middletown’s sorry excuse for a Mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger, has been caught yet again in a gross exaggeration of facts, which leads to the impression that the additional $500K over and above the previously agreed to $1.6M worth of budget cuts that the Board of Education presented to the Middeltown Township Committee back on May 3rd and May 6th was politically motivated.

This latest example comes from the many emails that were sent to the township’s website, after Sharfenberger came up with the brilliant idea to fore go an open public meeting to discuss further budget cuts that should be made to the Middletown school budget which was defeated on April 20th.
Scharfenberger stated at the May 17th Township Committee meeting and was quoted by all of the local newspapers that cover Middletown, that some 700 emails were sent to him via the suggestion portal that was set up on the township website for residents to voice their opinion on what items should or should not be cut from the school budget. Three days later a press release was posted on the township website stating that thanks to the residents for their input and that only 600 emails were gathered. Now after obtaining a copy of all those emails from the Township, I come to find out that the really number of emails sent in by residents was 501.
That’s a pretty big difference if you ask me, more so if you consider that many of the emails seem to be duplicates or have nothing whatsoever to do with suggestions on how to trim the defeated school budget, like spam and self indulgent compliments on defeating the budget. After looking through them, it really looks as if only 300 or so could be considered as legitimate.
Which leaves the question of exactly how many residents sent suggestions to the portal? Were only 50, 100 or 501 residents responsible for sending them all of those emails? We’ll never know for sure because only a small percentage of residents decided to sign their names to them, which was after all their prerogative, considering that the Township suggested that comments be left anonymously.
For anyone interested in reading all those emails themselves you can do so by clicking >>> Here

Note: For those that thought that their comments and suggestions would be kept confidential I am sorry to inform you otherwise, your comments are part of the public record for all to see whether you supported further school budget cuts or requested that the budget should stand as was at the time of the April 20th vote. Anyone could submit an OPRA request and receive the same information that I have.

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Filed under emails, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middeltown Board of Education, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, OPRA, OPRA requests, school budgets

Middletown school board to vote on final spending plan

Good job by Jennifer Bradshaw of the Asbury Park Press reporting on the Middletown school budget that will be voted on at tonights Board of Education meeting (I included her report at the bottom of this post).

The meeting agenda and resolutions were posted on the BoE website late Monday afternoon , I didn’t see them posted until shortly after noon yesterday, but I was unable to post about it until know.
There are a number of things that I found interesting and that pertain to tomorrow night’s meeting that will be open for discussion:

  1. The Meeting Agenda – Page 5 of the agenda lists the reductions in the budget that the BoE will be moving forward with. As Jennifer Bradshaw reports in the article below the BoE did not follow the township committees suggestion to eliminate two vice principals, an assistant business administrator or a directors position for a savings of $347,000. Instead they found savings (breakage) from teachers that announced their retirements since the budget was first proposed.
  2. Personnel Committee Report – This report lists the names of district employees that have announce their retirements, resignations or leaves of absences and contains the resolution which authorizes the further reduction of the work.
  3. Certified Staff – This is a list of all the certified staff members that are being recommended for rehire with their salaries( I was happy to see some names that I am familiar with and disappointed in not seeing others)
  4. Tenured Transfers Reassignments – A list of tenured teachers, guidance counselors and CST’s that have been transferred to other schools or who have had their positions within the school district reassigned
  5. Superintendent Compensation Freeze – Superintendent Karen Bilbao has forgone her contracted raise for the upcoming year and due to the recent change in state law will be contributing 1.5% of her salary towards health benefits. Currently Bilbao contributes $1,200 towards her benefits, that will now increase by $463 for a total of $1,663 inwhich she will have to pay towards her benefits.

I have to give the Board of Education some kudos here because unlike the Gerry Scharfenberger and the Township Committee, in a true showing of transparency, the BoE released the revised budget with all of the important information that pertains to it before their open public meeting tonight. By doing so, the BoE has allowed those interested in their child’s education to see how the additional cuts to the budget will effect them and then allow those parents a chance to speak informatively at the meeting.

The Board of Education should also be commended at this time for not presenting a “doomsday” budget even though funds are tight and the budget is bare-bones, I didn’t see anything about the need to cut sports programs or extracurricular activities at this time, which is a good thing. But we’ll have to wait it out to be sure.

MIDDLETOWN — The Board of Education will vote on the final school budget numbers at its 7:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday night in the auditorium of High School North, 63 Tindall Road.

As part of a more than $2 million reduction ordered by the Township Council, $150,000 will be through a change in nursing services; $803,000 will be through a change to the district’s health insurance carrier; $58,117 savings came from the elimination of a night watchman position; $136,796 through reductions to individual school budgets; $250,000 was saved through salary breakage related to six retirements; $140,000 through attrition; and $16,204 through the elimination of a PR position.

Administrative position cuts suggested by the council do not appear on the final cuts — the council had suggested the elimination of two vice principal positions at the high schools, for a savings of $130,000 each, the elimination of an assistant business administrator position for a savings of $91,000, and the elimination of a $126,000 director position.

The final numbers will have a 2.2 percent increase on township taxes, according to the agenda….

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, budget cuts, Middletown Board of Education, school budgets, Superintendent Karen Bilbao