Tonight’s Middletown Board of Education meeting that will take place at High School North @ 7pm will be interesting for a few of reasons that you will and won’t hear about.
Category Archives: Middeltown Board of Education
>On April 19th 2011, the Middletown Republican Party held a BOE Candidate Forum at the Lincroft Inn.
The first 11 minutes of the meeting consisted of Republican Club business followed by the Candidate Forum. After each candidate was give 2 minutes to introduce themselves the floor was open to questions and answers.
Candidates Leonora Caminitti, Barry Allen Travis and Richard Morrill did not attend but had statements read.
The meeting ran approx. 1.5 hours and can be heard in its entirety below, but I have to admit I haven’t listened to all of it as of yet. I have only gotten through the first hour, I will listen to more as time allows between now and the Board of Education election which will be held next week on April 27th.
My one thought on this meeting is that it wasn’t much different that the one I attended in person over at Harmony School on April 14th which was written about in this weeks edition of the Independent
The following comment was posted yesterday by an anonymous person to the post titled “Middletown school board to vote on final spending plan”. I thought that it was good enough to be considered comment of the week thus far and shared here on the main page.
The county superintendent has said that any further administrative cuts will jeopardize the district’s ability to provide an adequate education and may put the safety of the students at risk. Karen has said the same thing. Who has more knowledge about educating our children, the mayor or the educators?
When Vinnie Brand heard the email from the county superintendent read at the meeting the other night he said that he disagreed with the county superintendent and that he didn’t care what other towns are doing that we should do it better.
This guy is a pretty fast study. Wednesday was the second BOE meeting he has attended in his entire life and he already knows more than our superintendent and the county superintendent about acceptable student to administrator ratios. He said that we should cut 3 administrators as the TC suggested, even though the TC numbers had no basis in reality due to their total lack of understanding regarding the way the district operates.
Middletown has gotten what it wished for. We now have 3 new members on the board who apparently are so concerned about doing the bidding of the Township Committee that they are willing to compromise the safety of the students in order to save the taxpayers a few dollars.
Because the TC did not realize that the tenured administrators will have to be employed somewhere in the district, they grossly overstated the savings to the taxpayers. Instead of the $390,000 that they claimed would be saved by eliminating 3 administrators, the actual savings would be more like $50,000. In other words, for less than $1 per person a year for every person living in Middletown, Vinnie and his friends are willing to ignore the warnings of professional educators and compromise the safety of our students.
We now have inexperienced, uninformed and misguided people deciding the future of the districts educational process. They are ignoring the code of ethics for BOE members which states that they are to make their decisions based on what is best for the children. They appear to be making decisions based on political affiliations and aspirations.
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.
Here is the latest news from last night’s Middletown Board of Education budget meeting, I couldn’t make it there so I have been waiting for word about what transpired:
BY JENNIFER BRADSHAW – The Asbury Park Press
MIDDLETOWN — The Board of Education unanimously approved a proposed $140.3 million budget tonight that calls for a 3.9 percent tax increase and 124 layoffs to close a gap in the spending plan.
Superintendent Karen Bilbao said in order to make more than $9 million in cuts, all nontenured teachers in the district would have to receive notices of nonrenewal.
Supplemented by a $123.8 million tax levy, the budget had to be substantially trimmed after state aid was cut by $7.2 million for the 2010-11 school year. In addition, $2.8 million in state aid was cut from this year’s budget.
After the state announced its aid numbers for 2010-11, layoffs grew to 72 teachers, 20 paraprofessionals, 16 secretaries, eight facilities staff members and seven administrators for $4.1 million in savings.
At the crowded meeting, Bilbao asked the public not to think of the cuts as “people” but rather as “positions,” meaning that tenured teachers in those cut positions could be reassigned.
Bilbao announced at the meeting that she, in addition to several others in the central office, would be freezing their salaries for a year, in light of the cuts.
According to the district, the 3.9 percent total tax increase will add $183 a year in taxes to an average assessed home of $435,000.
If state aid cuts had not been so deep, the tax increase would have been 2.7 percent, the district said.
Tonight’s meeting was the first introduction of the district budget, originally scheduled to be unveiled at the March 18 workshop meeting. It was postponed after state aid numbers came out a day earlier.
Bilbao also said the district teachers union was asked for a salary freeze regarding the following school year, as well as a freeze on stipends for those teachers involved in extracurricular activities, but both requests were denied.
Linda McLaughlin, president of the teachers union, read from a prepared statement in defense of the union’s stance, stating that the existing contract between the union and the district was hard to come by, after hostile negotiations in previous years.
The teachers of the district are also taxpayers and not exempt from economic troubles, she said. A freeze would “(Make) our families even more vulnerable in a shaky economy,” she said.
Earlier in the month, it was announced that the district was already working with a $4.3 million budget hole, caused by increased district costs, and a loss of $2.8 million in surplus funds, through an executive order mandating all districts to use the money in their surplus accounts to cover expenses for the remainder of the 2009-10 school year.
Business administrator Bill Doering then said that the district’s surplus funds are often used as budgeted tax relief for the coming school year, with an absence of those funds causing a hole in the subsequent year’s budget.
To see the Final Budget Presentation and the Final 2010-2011 Proposed Budget from the Middletown Board of Education, you can go to the BOE’s website by clicking >>> Here to read them.
Part of budgeting would also normally include allocating a portion of any remaining funds to the “capital reserve” fund to support future capital improvements (infrastructure, systems, fields). The state has taken .5M of Middletown’s accumulated capital reserves.
With the state taking the tax relief and reserves, the District has to rely on “real tax dollars” from this year, as well as pulling remaining capital reserve. Keep in mind that the State often imposes mandates on Districts without funding them. What this means is when the state says “you must have full-day kindergarten,” and there are specific regulations as to the physical structure of a kindergarten classroom, a district must fund that out of somewhere.
VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: 84% of the funds that the Governor authorized to withhold from Middletown are local taxpayer dollars. Senator J. Kyrillos, at the Middletown BOE Forum last week, admitted he had no idea the funds that were taken were predominantly funded by local taxpayer dollars. It appears he assumed that the funds were 100% state aid dollars held in reserve and therefore the state was still funding the approved budget by withholding committed funds and saying “keep the funds you already have from us.” For the 2009-2010 school budget year Middletown was supposed to receive only 16% in state aid (versus 41% average across the state). The checks have now stopped, and Middletown has been directed to use our $2.3 million tax relief and $.5 million capital reserves to cover the state’s shortfall. IF THE STATE IS WITHDRAWING STATE AID, THEY SHOULD ONLY BE TAKING 16% of $2.8 MILLION, NOT ALL OF IT. 84% OF THAT IS MIDDLETOWN DOLLARS RAISED FOR MIDDLETOWN CHILDREN!!
WE PAID OUR STATE TAXES. WE PAID OUR LOCAL TAXES SPECIFICALLY FOR MIDDLETOWN. NOW OUR STATE TAXES ARE GONE, SO OUR STATE AID IS GONE, AND THEY WANT OUR LOCAL REAL ESTATE TAXES TO SUPPORT THE ENTIRE STATE!
So where does Middletown stand right now? Based on the funding the state has withdrawn, and assuming that the state aid of 16% from last year is not reduced (highly unlikely), and also assuming that the Middletown taxpayers vote to pass the current budget on April 20th, we can expect to lose 36 teachers (in addition to 28 other positions ranging from Administration to Facilities). That is the “best case scenario” as we stand right now. If the Middletown voters vote to not pass the budget, the budget is presented to the township committee who can vote to cut the budget further, resulting in even more cuts.
The worst-case scenario is that the state follows through on a full 15% cut to Middletown’s current funding, which would result in a potential loss of over 80 teachers, additional positions, and program cuts! If the Middletown voters will not pass even that budget, additional positions and programs will have to be cut to make up for a potential township cut.
Think about the impact of 80+ families in Middletown and the surrounding areas losing their income. This is not an issue just affecting Middletown; this situation is happening across over 600 districts in this state. Lost jobs equals loss of income tax and sales tax to the state. Lost jobs equals unemployment, and the state has said the unemployment system is bankrupt. Lost jobs equals loss of property tax when families leave NJ for a cheaper place to live.
The Middletown Budget Awareness Committee, Inc.
BOE forum presentation and spread sheets @ http://www.middletownk12.org/superintendent/files/FINAL%20Presentation%20without%20NOTES.pdf.
The text of the speech given by President Laura Agin of the Middletown Board of Education @ http://www.dollarsandsense.bz/.
It seemed as if Township Administrator Tony Mercantante was somewhat unprepared, he had a few ariel shots of the proposed sites with superimposed rectangles to simulate where the fields would be installed and not much else.
Mercantante basically just asked the Board of Education if they would like to partner up with the township on this project. When BOE members asked specific questions he answered that all the details would have to be worked out during land lease and partnership negotiations and that problems would be ironed out then.
About two dozen residents voiced concerns about the projects and asked the BOE to keep in mind the hidden costs that may associated with this plan. A couple of other residents mentioned the safety and injury concerns associated with artificial surfaces.
Overall though, it was a waste of time for the public to invited to hear because there was just not enough details and as I stated earlier, there are many questions that need to be answered like, who would be responsible for maintaining the fields? What about insurance liabilities? Who would be responsible for supervising or policing them during off hours? Who gets preference of use, the school system or sports leagues? Who replaces the carpet when it wears out in 10 years do to over use? What about lighting, concessions, locker rooms and bathroom facilities? All of these questions and more need to be answered before this project can move forward, not just brushed over with false statements or promises that can not be kept.
So let it be known that I am not opposed to the fields per say, I think that it is a good idea, a win-win situation for both the Township and the Board of Education, but it has to be done right all of the I’s need to be dotted and all the T’s crossed before I feel comfortable with giving this matter my unconditional support.
There is also the problem that I have with this years township budget. How can we spend money on obvious luxury items around town when we can’t balance our budget? The adoption of the budget is almost 6 months late and have a proposed 9.2% tax increase associated with it. if we have money lying around for 3 athletic fields maybe we should drop the idea for the 3rd and use that money to off set the shortfall in the current budget.
One thing that was lost at the meeting, which I feel that I should mention is that even if these fields are not approved by the Board of Education, the Township seems to have every intention on moving forward with installing an artificial surface over the football field that is located at Croydon Hall. This is the 3rd field mentioned and is used by Pop Warner teams in town.