Randolph NJ Schools at a Crossroad - What do we value?

Randolph NJ Schools are at a cross roads. Gov. Christie has cut an additional $3.7 million in funding for the 2010-2011 school year. This is on top of a shortfall of $2.27 from our operating budget from this year.

The Board of Education has outlined our bleak options in a press release.

While none of the options are desirable, we all need to be informed residents to determine how our town will move forward. We need to make decisions about today and our future.

Here is how our "options" break down:

1 - The residents fund the shortfall - A one time additioanal special tax increase of approximately $113 per average household in addition to the increase of $253 per household already suggested to deal with the $2.27mil shortfall (average assessed value is around $338k I think)  - or a total of $366 per average house instead of $253 per average house OR

2 - Slashing the education our schools provide through either:

a - Cutting 57 teachers (in addition to the 22 already slated to be eliminated to make up the $2.7 shortfall already incorporated into the 2010-2011 budget) - meaning a total teaching staff reduction of 79 teachers  OR

b - Cutting ALL of the following:

  • All sports, clubs and extra-curricular activities in all schools (elementary through high) AND
  • Busing for families who live within 2 miles or the school (meaning kids are walking to school in Millbrook with no sidewalks) AND
  • All kindergarten classes AND
  • All AP classes at the high school AND
  • All elective courses at the middle and high schools beyond the core state curriculum

An additional option is offsetting some of the cuts costs by a wage freeze for all education system staff.  Whatever your thoughts on that, the reality is that our school budget vote is next month and the teacher contract won't be done by then, so it is irrelevant to the immediate issue.  I put this in the category of good news if it happened, but not something to be counted on now.  Right now, we have some hard choices.

Nobody wants tax increases - but I put forth to you that if we residents don't come together to increase the funding to maintain our schools by agreeing to a one-time tax levy, our community will be lost as residents flee for better schools and nobody will buy our houses for a school district with no kindergarten, no AP, no busing and no sports.

We can all agree the education system is broken, but the answer can't be to punish our children who only get one shot at education in life - without the solid quality foundation we have been able to provide, our children's potential will be stunted.

Would I suggest different allocations in cuts if it were my decision? Absolutely - I see areas of waste and misallocation of resources.  Am I wiling to punish all of our children as a result? No.

I am a member of this community and know that if we can work together to maintain and grow, then all of us will benefit.  I would prefer a tax increase that is incremental spread out of over a year to having to pay for private school, private transportation and suffering more reductions in the value of my house.

We vote April 20th from 2-9 at the local firehouses.

 

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Jen - March 22, 2010 4:02 PM

How about Administration cutbacks? There are always too many administrators, curriculum folks, etc. Combine them. Why do we need a department chairman for each subject for each school?

Combine them! Cut back on them. The kids won't feel a thing. And your property values won't get hurt.

New taxes are not needed if you clean house in the administration area.

michael leach - April 5, 2010 1:42 PM

How about cutting the proposed $ 94,000,000 budget by 3%? It would more than cover the shortfall. The problem is nobody has enough guts to cut spending. Bottom line is spending should decrease in a recession, not increase. Why not start by proposing a 10% cut across the board. Target all of the costs associated with tax revenue, try to lower taxes so more families move into town which would increase tax revenue......seems like common sense.

Randolph Resident

Nicole - April 5, 2010 7:53 PM

I agree with Jen. Why pay $500-$700 more per year in taxes? If Randolph wanted a one-time payment of $300 directly to the town to continue these programs, I would be more than happy to bring the check tomorrow. What people don't understand is, this is going to raise taxes in Randolph by an average of $500-$700/year. Do you think they'll lower the taxes next year? Growing up in another state, my parents had to PAY to send me to AP classes, they had to PAY for me to play extra-curricular activities. If these are such beneficial programs to the children, why aren't the parents willing to pay more for their children to participate? Why are they going to the tax payers? It's time for reform. If we don't send a message now, everyone will be paying 20% more in 4 years.

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