By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes,
Well you just might find
You get what you need.
????? Mick Jagger & Keith Richards: 1969
??? Two weeks ago, voters rejected school budgets for Buena Regional and Mainland Regional high schools and the elementary schools of Egg Harbor City, Northfield, and Somers Point.
??? NJ state law at 18A:22-37 of NJ requires the city councils and township committees? in these places to “consult”, with school officials, and write new school budgets by May 19.??? The city councils of Northfield, Linwood, and Somers Point will do this for Mainland at the school library next Monday, May 5 at 6:00 P.M.?
??? In normal times, this is a waste of time.?? School administrators, the NJEA teacher’s union, and parents with kids in expensive programs puttons of? pressure on their? town and township officials.?? And except for rare cases (i.e. Weymouth Township in 2006), local politicians usually cave in, and make no real cuts.
??? But these are not normal times.?? Runaway public school spending is bankrupting the state, and causing 10% local tax hikes in many towns-not counting “normal” school tax increases.
??? Here are five ideas on how local officials should handle rejected school budgets:
??? 1.?? Don’t minimize the importance of the “No” vote.? School elections were held in April instead of November so that “Yes” leaning parents and public school employees would dominate the vote.?? Your school administrators spent lots of time and money on? “community outreach” programs to “legally” campaign for? a? “Yes” vote.??? The taxpayer funded School Boards Association held countless training programs and seminars teaching board members their “moral” duty to support more school spending, and techniques for getting budgets approved.?
??? And of course, there was the $800 per year paid by each of? NJ’s 110,000 public school teachers to the NJEA teacher’s union.??? A big chunk of that $86 million collected pushed? “Yes” votes around the state.?? The NJEA ads publicly said:??? “Vote ‘Yes’ for ‘Great Public Schools'”.?? But this is what NJEA privately told its members:
??? A.? Vote “Yes” for every budget, even if the money isn’t needed!??? Future budgets will be based on this year’s budget, and extra money in this year’s budget means better pay in future contracts.
??? B.? “In a year with over $2.7 billion in (state) spending cuts, public schools were almost alone in being spared the budget ax. . .? We need to send a message, and there is no better way to do that than to pass as many budgets as we can”.
??? If your citizens voted “No” in spite of all this, they are giving us an important message.
??? 2.? The Mainland High School District has its own $134,620 superintendent and $97,112 business administrator, but only one school. Mainland should have a “superintendent/principal” or share a superintendent with one of its three sending districts.
??? 3.? Mainland has 153 teachers and administrators for 1,650 students.?? Nearly half of them (70) earn more than $75,000 per year.??? All teachers get very generous vacation, sick, health insurance, and retirement benefits.?? The football coach gets $112,000, a guidance counselor gets $103,000, and a one of the three “curriculum supervisors” gets $105,000. (Source:? Datauniverse at www.app.com)? With hundreds of? qualified applicants for every job opening, we should force Mainland to get tougher at the bargaining table-and trim some staff until they do.?
??? 4.? Last year, Mainland requested separate voter permission to buy a $176,000 language “lab”. The voters said “No”.?? One year later, the Board plans to lease-purchase buy the same “lab”? Corzine style, without voter approval. When my kids went to Mainland, I learned Spanish at the? private International House.? I learned far more Spanish in four 2-week courses-enough to read newspapers and be fully conversational– than my kids learned in four years at Mainland.??? My private teachers ridiculed the way American public schools teach languages-especially with language labs.? I wrote a whole column on the subject last year.?? You can find it at by clicking here.
??? 5.? Mainland will spend? $225,000 on “individual placements” for six “special needs students” or $37,000 per student.?? Can’t Mainland work to share instructors and expenses with other districts?
??? When voters rejected the budget, Mainland cancelled a $6,000 “music field trip” to Hershey park for 200 students.?? The voters did their job. Now it’s time for the council members of Northfield, Linwood, and Somers Point-and the other towns with rejected budgets– to do theirs.
For more information, visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-927-7333.??? Seth Grossman hosts a two way talk radio program every Saturday from 8am – 9am on WVLT Vineland, 92.1 FM.