Category Archives: MTEA

>Finally Some News About Middletown’s Proposed School Budget

>In today’s issue of the Independent which was posted online Tuesday night, comes word about the proposed Middletown School budget.

According to the article, a special school board meeting was held on March 2nd to introduce the school budget. This year’s budget would increase over last year budget by 2%, which would equate to a $2,445,064 increase in the tax levy and would support a budget that would be $145,211,537 or roughly $6.5 million more than last year.
There are a few things that were mentioned in the article that strike me in a good way and one thing that potentially troubles me.
Much of this year’s budget increase would go towards restoring some of the things that were lost after last years budget defeat. Things like capital improvements to High School North, funding for technology and the hiring back of 5.5 teachers (I wonder what happen to the other half).
What I found trouble about what was contained in the article was that it mentioned that contract talks between the MTEA and the Middletown Board of Education has reached an impasse, and now both sides are waiting to hear from the Public Employment Relations Commission to determine if negotiations should resume.
It turns out that this proposed budget was put together with the idea that the MTEA would accept a wage freeze for the 20011/2012 school year and contribute more towards their health benefits, which would help to offset a $4 million increase in health care costs.
I would hope that after the beating the MTEA took last year in the public opinion of residents, they would be slightly more lenient in their contract negotiations this year with the school system for the public good and in an effort to somewhat reform their image.
Without being involved in those negotiations however, it is hard to determine if good faith negotiations and measures have taken place between the two side. So I won’t pass judgement on either side just yet.
I am sure though, that as this impasse progresses and the time comes closer to having the School budget voted on in April, we’ll hear an awful lot more about this.
You can read the article >>> Here

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Filed under budget introduction, contract impasse, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA, school budgets, Teachers

>Middletown School Board Meeting Was Uneventful But Superintendent Bilbao Allowed To Leave Early

>I was unable to attend last night’s Middletown Board of Education meeting even though I had wanted to very much. I had a conflict in my schedule that just didn’t allow me the time to make it. I was curious if anything would be mentioned about the rumoured BOE member, that has allegedly been ordered removed from the board by the State School Ethics Commission. Luckily though, I did have someone there who was able to report back to me on what happened.

From what I was told, it was a quiet and otherwise uneventful meeting that finished up early, with the big news of the night being that the BOE agreed to allow School Superintendent Karen Bilbao to leave her position within the district early. Bilbao is contractually obligated to stay on the job for 120 days after handing in her resignation, which she handed in on December 1st, but the school board waived that requirement and will allow her to leave on February 1st.
I was told that no real discussions took place at this meeting, on who would replaced Bilbao as Superintendent. As I see it, this could be a problem that I hope doesn’t turn out to be something more significant.
With MTEA Union contract talks looming and the new 2% cap on property taxes that will kick in starting January 1st, it will be important to have some one who is experienced and knowledgeable leading the school district and formulation this years upcoming budget. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be anyone currently capable of handling this.
I have heard from several people that the likely candidate to replace Karen Bilbao as Superintendent of Schools is James Stefankiewicz, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum due to ties that he has within the Monmouth County Department of Education.
Whoever the new Superintendent is I hope that they are in place relatively soon, but only after a well thought out and intensive search for the best possible candidate. The upcoming year will be a challenging one for the Middletown school district and a truly qualified individual is needed to lead it.

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Filed under Karen Bilbao, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA, NJ School Ethics Commission, resignation, retirement, school budgets

MTEA Urges It’s Members to Call Town Hall To Tell Mayor To Stop Perpetuating The "Lie"

I received an email from a few people today that originated from Amy M. Johnson M.T.E.A. First Vice-President and Linda Guyer M.T.E.A. President. The email is addressed to members of the Middletown teachers union and it urges them to call Mayor Scharfenberger and other members of the Township Committee to let them know that the lies the mayor has been perpetuating concerning the MTEA not responding to his request for a wage freeze is false, unacceptable, damaging and unproductive.

I happen to agree and I urge all residents that think the same to call the mayor and let him know that you agree also.

Below is the text of the email with links that I inserted:

To all M.T.E.A. members:

It is clear that the Mayor of Middletown wants to perpetuate the lie that the M.T.E.A. did not respond to his letter by the close of business on April 30th as reported in The Atlantic Highlands Herald on May 3rd, The Independent on May 6th, and Asbury Park Press on May 9th. He needs to hear from each M.T.E.A. member about how his dirty politics are damaging and unproductive, and will not change our answer to his question. I strongly urge you to call the Mayor and Township Committee Members about this today! You may also consider calling any of the newspapers about the lies they are so willingly spreading.

http://www.middletownnj.org/Mayor_Township/index.asp

Many of the Middletown Township Committee members do not hold regular office hours, but all committee members may be contacted via voice mail at the numbers listed below:

Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger 732615-2024

Deputy Mayor Anthony Fiore 732706-4153

Committeewoman Pamela Brightbill 732706-4150

Committeeman Sean Byrnes 732706-4152

Committeeman Steve Massell 732706-4154

The Atlantic Highlands Herald: 732-872-1957

The Independent: 732-358-5200

Asbury Park Press: 1-800-822-9770

Thanking you in advance for your continued support,

Amy M. Johnson
M.T.E.A. First Vice-President / Grievance Chairperson

Linda Guyer
M.T.E.A. President

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Filed under Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA

TRT:M’Town School Budget Fails…Blah, Blah, Blah

I have to give another well deserved shoutout to Ryan Fennell, the reporter who covers the Middletown beat for the Two River Times. It seems that out of the 3 or 4 reporters that regularly cover the happenings at Middletown Committee meetings he seems to be the only one interested in reporting the whole story, not just the rantings and diatribes of an appointed mayor.

At Monday night’s Committee meeting when the discussion got around to the defeated school budget, he didn’t simply rely on two previously released press releases and a personal letter issued by mayor Scharfenberger over the last 10 days that were written to chastise Middletown teachers and their union into accepting a wage freeze like others have recently done. He actually reported what was said by another member of the Committee that doesn’t happen to sit in the majority, fanning the flames of residents displeasure by attempting to turn this years defeated school budget into a political campaign issue.

Of course he reported what the mayor and deputy-mayor had to say about the teachers, their union, the potential wage freeze and the effect it would have on the Township and school system if enacted, but their comments really just amounted to a rehash of the earlier press releases and letter.

Blah, blah,blah…wage freeze…blah,blah, blah…layoffs…blah, blah, blah…union…blah, blah,blah…pay freezes….blah blah,blah…voter anger at teachers….

Instead of ending his article there, with a one sided, biased, anti-teacher/union spin designed to make the members of the teachers union look bad and glorify the righteousness of the mayor’s attempt to play hardball, he adds the following passage that included the level headed and practical comments by Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who feels that there are more important long term issues that need to be addressed, that would have a much more significant impact to taxpayers if addressed now instead of squabbling over a temporary wage freeze for teachers:

“…Committeeman Sean Byrnes said that he is in favor of the teacher’s union accepting a wage freeze for the coming year, however, does not believe that a wage freeze will solve the problems of the long term.

“Even if we secure a wage freeze, I haven’t seen a recognition that the budgets problems facing the Board of Education and the town are long term and call for significant structural changes to our budgets and to our organizations in town,” Byrnes said. “A wage freeze will help in 2010. It will not solve the budget problems that we have.”
Byrnes said that he is proposing the formation of a budget review advisory committee that would consist of the Township Committee, the Board of Education, and the Library.
The advisory committee would specifically look for ways to consolidate, share services, and approach the town’s obligations from a “one town” perspective.
“I would prefer that we not approach or discuss things with the MTEA in a political manner,” Byrnes said. “I think it makes sense for the Township Committee, with the assistance of the Board of Education members, to have some discussions with the MTEA. But my preference would be that we not have that exchange through press releases. It doesn’t encourage a resolution to do that.”…


Being a parent with two kids that attend school in Middletown and who have learning disabilities, it angers me that Governor Christie lied to voters throughout this state while on the campaign trail, telling them that he supported and valued the state education system only to turn his back on it once elected by slashing over $800M worth of state aid to local school boards and declaring war on the teachers and their union.
It’s unfortunate that Middletown’s ruling party, lead by mayor Scharfenberger and his cronies, have decided to follow in Christie’s footsteps by demonizing teachers instead of looking for long term, common sense solutions on how to deal with rising property tax rates.
Level headiness with a keen eye towards the future is what is needed by elected officials in the state, as well as here in Middletown.
Instead of politicising the school board and the school budget for short term gains and political advantages, Scharfenberger and Co. should listen to Sean Brynes for once. He is the lone voice on the committee with practical budget experience and common sense enough to make proper decisions in regards to restructuring how government operates in Middletown.
He has very valid ideas that should be listened to, not ignored and then taken, like so many are by the mayor and his republican friends.

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Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA, Ryan Fennell, school budgets, Sean F. Byrnes, Two River Times

Scharfenberger taints budget negotiations with rhetoric before sitting down with school board.

It’s been 13 days since Middletown voters turned down the township school budget and during this time Middletown’s mayor has attempted to take a page straight out of Governor Christie’s playbook.

With a press release and a personal letter directed at the MTEA and it teachers he issued an ultimatum, take a wage freeze or face further spending cuts to the school budget that was defeated on April 20th.

Scharfenberger’s letter that was published today in the Atlantic Highlands Herald and read aloud on radio station NJ101.5, took acceptation at being rebuffed by the teacher’s union stating, “… the MTEA did not even afford me the courtesy of a response. I find this extremely distressing…”

Really? What I find distressing is the fact that today, before meeting with representative of the Middletown Board of Education to discuss the pending school budget; Scharfenberger felt it necessary to fan the flames of discontent with needless rhetoric in an attempt, I suppose, to try and gain the upper hand during the review process of the budget.

It’s too bad that Scharfenberger thinks he needs to play politics by taking on the local teacher’s union in order deflect attention away from his own mishandling of the turf issue and the Township’s own $5+ million budget deficit.

At the very least, before opening his mouth and inserting his foot, he should give the process a chance to move forward positively without the taint of inflammatory rhetoric before the whole Township Committee has had a chance to review and make recommendations on how much money can or cannot be sliced from the school budget, because when he fails to cut a significant portion of the $3M from the school budget that he said could have been avoided only if the teacher’s had excepted a wage freeze, he will be exposed as the partisan hack politician that we all know that he is.

When you consider that the Township uses the gimmick of deferred taxes to help balance the township budget, Gerry can afford to cut an additional $3M from the school budget.

For those that don’t know what deferred taxes are a simple way to explain it is this, after each school budget is approved the township starts to collect the new school tax rate immediately before the old school budget has expired. This enables the township to use the revenue from the newly approved budget, which generally has a higher tax rate; the Township could be collecting the difference between the old and new tax rate for as much as 3-4 months and use it to offset the municipal tax rate. This money rightfully belongs to the Middletown Board of Education however they never receive it.

Currently, after some 20 years of practice close to $60M is owed to the school board and it looks as if it will never be repaid even though the line item grows every year and appears in township budget documents.

So Gerry can bluster all he wants about cutting the school budget if the teachers refuse a wage freeze but the bottom line is that the township relies on that money just as much as the kids in the school system do.

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Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Township Committee, MTEA, NJEA, school budgets, Teachers

$140 million Middletown school budget calls for tax hike, layoffs

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.

This is a bad job by the teachers union when so many in Middeltown and around the state are hurting, they should be ashamed of themselves! What about the families of the 124 people that will now lose their livelihoods in this vulnerable economy?
It’s just another case of I have mine to hell with you if you don’t have yours.
They should have accepted the wage freeze.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, layoffs, Middeltown Board of Education, MTEA, NJEA, tax increase

MTEA Refuses Wage Freeze And Plans to Stand Up To "Schoolyard Bully" Christie, But At What Cost?

I received the following email while at work last night so I was unable to post it here until this morning. The email is from MTEA President Linda Guyer and was sent to all members of the Middletown teacher’s union Friday afternoon. After reading it my jaw was left hanging open.

With the Middletown Board of Education facing an $11million budget deficit and in the face of potential layoffs of many of its members that would affect class size and loss of programs throughout the district, the MTEA is planning on taking the advice of its parent organization, the NJEA and stand up to the “bullying” tactics of Governor Christie. They are planning to oppose any and all attempts at reopening their existing contract that would lead to wage freezes or any other type of givebacks by their members.

Instead they will attempt to get the message out to parents of district school children about how looming layoffs will affect their kids and to put a spotlight onto “lies” that the governor is telling everyone about their union, essentially using the children that they teach as a wedge between parents and Trenton.

In the past, I always thought of myself as a good union man, but there are times that battles should be fought and times when union members should use their heads and common sense should rein. With an $11million budget deficit staring them in the face, the MTEA should be worried more about protecting the jobs of its members and not about fighting over a wage freeze.
The economy is bad and the state unemployment rate is over 10%, there is little sympathy to go around for public union members who, over the past few decades have gotten fat off the land while private sector employees have had to deal with corporate downsizing, stagnant wages and rising health care co-pays, so if the MTEA expects township residents to be behind them, I think they are in for a rude awakening.

Since my kids have been categorized as “other learning disabled” and have had IEP’s, I have tried not to speak out against the school system or their teachers even though we have had to fight the system. As a result, my kids have been very fortunate to have some of the most caring professionals teach and look out for them, so I can empathize with the situation that the MTEA finds itself under, but it’s time to bite the bullet and do what’s right.

Protect your union members by taking a wage freeze and protect the taxpayers of the district and their children by helping to keep the looming budget cuts and tax increases to a minimum.

If program that benefit my kids and kids like them are cut or eliminated and their education and futures are put at risk then I would hold the MTEA and its members accountable for their failures just as I plan on holding Governor Christie accountable 4 years from now for putting all of us in this situation in the first place.

*From:* Guyer, Linda A
*Sent**:* Friday, March 19, 2010 4:15 PM
*Subject:* URGENT!! General Membership Meeting
*Importance:* High

To All MTEA members,

As you all are acutely aware, we a facing the fight of our professional lives right now. The devastating cuts that the governor has proposed will have chilling effects across our state and impact /our/ school district to the tune of over 11 million dollars! This will mean layoffs, larger class sizes and a possible loss of programs. The Board of Education and the Superintendent are in the process right now of developing a budget that will be presented to the County Superintendent on Monday.

We need to stand up to the bullying tactics that our governor is using to incite the public through the media. Governor Christie has said that he would be /happy/ to sign bills that would violate collective bargaining. NJEA has said that we need to PROTECT our collective bargaining agreement! We must think of it as our bible in the workplace! Our collective bargaining agreement gives meaning and integrity to our workplace. Our contract is never reopened in boon economies to provide
the benefit of an increase, and we should not be expected to reopen it now, when we bargained fairly for our settlement. On Thursday March 11^th at Representative Council, a motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed */_not_/* to agree to or approve a salary freeze. The NJEA’s stand is also very clear on this critical issue, “We will not open our contracts or freeze our salaries”. Our principles are not for sale.

I welcome any and all suggestions that our members have in order to face this crisis and get the truth out to our community about the lies that the governor is telling. We need as many members as possible to attend the upcoming budget meeting on March 24^th to get the word out to the community about how the looming layoffs will affect their children. We as a union must stay together and take action where we can.

This is what NJEA recommends that we can and should do in the next 72 hours:

* Call your Assemblymen
* Visit their offices
* Write letters if you haven’t done so yet
* Get your family members and friends to write letters
* Visit the NJEA website for talking points
http://www.njea.org/page.aspx
* On the NJEA website is a separate area called Keep the Promise
where you will find the analysis of the bills, Q & A, and the
truth about pension funding
* Use the Legislative section on the NJEA website to Cyber Lobby and
also watch the video about our pensions and pass it on to friends
and family

We know that there are many questions and concerns that need to be addressed and are going to be holding a General Membership meeting on Tuesday, March 23^rd at Jacques at 4:00, to discuss them. Our NJEA Uniserv Representative, Marc Abramson will be in attendance as well. Please make every effort to attend this very important meeting in order to be informed and united as we navigate these unprecedented changes.

We need to fight the schoolyard bully and not back down!

Sincerely,

Linda Guyer, President

Amy Johnson, 1^st Vice President

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Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, layoffs, Middletown Board of Education, MTEA, NJEA