njasa logoNEW JERSEY ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Press Release: For Immediate Release
 

Contacts:

Nancy Sergeant, SGW, 973-299-5471, nsergeant@sgw.com

Mary Appelmann, SGW, 973-263-5182, mappelmann@sgw.com

Brian Hyland, SGW, 201-410-4563, bhyland@sgw.com

Anne H. Gallagher, NJASA Director of Communications, 609-599-2900, ext. 126, agallagher@njasa.net
 
  • Dr. Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, is  available to discuss the difficult choices forced by cuts in state aid and the human impact in individual districts, and to help parents and taxpayers understand the extent of the losses.
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    Many School Districts Lose 100% of State Aid;
    Losses in Millions of Dollars
     
     

    TRENTON, N.J. April 7, 2010 – Announced reductions in state aid are causing New Jersey Chief Education Officers, known as school superintendents, to slash local district budgets, issue pink slips to hundreds of teachers and school employees, and eliminate or severely cut back vital programs, according to the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. “There’s no doubt parents will see the difference in their schools next year,” states Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA executive director. “Schools will be leaner, and in many cases parents may not like the direction that had to be taken, usually taken against the desires of the very superintendents who have to enforce this new set of program and personnel changes.”

     

    Cuts will be reflected in upcoming school budgets that will be brought before taxpayers on April 20. Bozza adds, “These cuts are not to just nameless positions and programs. They reflect excruciating choices that superintendents had to make after emergency meetings with parents, district educators and elected school boards.”

     

    Due to substantial cuts in state aid, most local budgets were constructed based on layoffs of long-term, loyal, active and valued personnel. Many of the layoff notices were issued to people who are not only employees and educators but also are themselves parents served by a district and/or neighbors who live within and pay taxes to the district. The result of these budget reductions, according to the NJASA, will be both a decrease in the quality of education and an increase in all the hardships that occur in families and communities when layoffs occur.

     

    All Districts Affected; No One Spared

     

    State law mandates state aid, but with funding woes in Trenton, the governor has concentrated budget cutbacks in the education sector. “It amounts to a break in the commitment between the state and local municipalities, who now have to shoulder a larger local tax burden,” Bozza notes. “Luckily, chief education officers have the background and training both in education and financial management to lead districts through these tough times and to make the hard choices with the least detrimental effect on educational quality,” he adds.

     

    Prior to the budget cuts, 59 New Jersey school districts were already shouldering the majority of their education costs with local taxpayer support. It was not uncommon for wealthier districts to be funding 90-95% of their school budgets from local property taxes. These same districts are now facing a 2010-2011 school year where they will have to cover 100% of their education budgets, sometimes amounting to millions of dollars in specific districts.

     

    Hundreds of poorer districts are struggling with a smaller percentage cut to their school operating budgets, which in many cases resulted in even higher dollar loses. For instance, in Camden, the poorest school district in the state, a 5% budget cut resulted in a $15 million loss in state aid to the city’s public schools for the upcoming school year.

     

    “Whether or not you agree with the budget cuts, the hard choices are being made by the superintendents and the boards,” noted Bozza. “Chief Education Officers are the ones who have to sit across the desk from the teacher or the janitor and tell them that their livelihoods and family plans are affected. For some, it means they won’t be able to send their kids to college as planned. That’s the human factor in this equation.”

     

    Sidebar: 59 School Districts Completely Lost State Aid

     

    The suburban districts that funded the bulk of their education costs through taxpayer dollars and lost 100% of state aid include:

     

    Bergen County (27 districts): Allentown Boro; Alpine Boro; Carlstadt Boro; Carlstadt-East Rutherford; Closter Boro; Demarest Boro; Emerson Boro; Glen Rock Boro; Northern Highlands Regional; Northern Valley Regional; Northvale Boro; Oakland Boro; Old Tappan Boro; Park Ridge Boro; Pascack Valley Regional; Ramapo-Indian Hill Regional; Ramsey Boro; Ridgewood Village; River Dell Regional; River Vale Township; Rockleigh; Saddle River Boro; Tenafly Boro; Teterboro; Upper Saddle River Boro; Woodcliff Lake Boro; Wyckoff Township

    Camden County (1 district): Haddonfield

    Cape May County (2 districts): Avalon Boro; Stone Harbor Boro

    Essex County (6 districts): Caldwell-West Caldwell; Essex Fells Boro; Glen Ridge Boro; Livingston Township; Millburn Township; North Caldwell Boro

    Hudson County (1 district): Secaucus Town

    Hunterdon County (1 district): Stockton Boro

    Middlesex County (1 district): Cranbury Township

    Monmouth County (7 districts): Deal Boro; Little Silver Boro; Manasquan Boro; Rumson-Fair Haven Regional; Sea Girt Boro; Spring Lake Boro; West Long Branch Boro

    Morris County (5 districts): Hanover Park Regional; Harding Township; Madison Boro; Mendham Boro; Mountain Lakes Boro

    Ocean County (2 districts): Bay Head Boro; Beach Haven Boro

    Somerset County (2 districts): Somerset Hills Regional; Watchung Hills Regional

    Union County (4 districts): Berkeley Heights Township; New Providence Boro; Springfield Township; Summit City

     

    Source: www.state.nj.us/education/stateaid/1011/

     

    The Human Factor: Our Stories

     

    • Camden County: Haddonfield was “blindsided” by the state announcement that the district would receive zero funding. “Cuts will be made in our programming and probably in our staffing,” said Board of Education President Steve Weinstein. “For a district that gets so little state aid to begin with, to be hit with this literally hours before we were to adopt the budget is unconscionable.”

     

    • Middlesex County: East Brunswick plans to eliminate nearly 100 positions, including 65 full-time and 15 part-time employees. Three junior-varsity coaching positions will be cut, and the districts will eliminate stipends for 88 club advisors. Principals might step in to advise some clubs.

     

    • Somerset County: The county’s largest school district, Bridgewater-Raritan, will lay off 68 teachers, 24 support staff and five administrators and outsource the work of its 84-member custodial staff. The district will also apply for an automatic waiver to increase the tax levy by 4.95%.

     

    New Series of Videos Released

    Due to the complexity of budget decisions, the NJASA has released a series of videos to help parents and taxpayers better understand the issues and terminology being discussed. Three-minute videos are dedicated to explaining surplus funds, what parents can expect in the next school year, the human side of the budget cuts and the budget process. Each video can be accessed on a special NJASA YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheNJASAor by clicking on the YouTube icon on the NJASA web site, www.njasa.net.

     

    About NJASA

    The New Jersey Association of School Administrators is an organization of Chief Education Officers and school administrators who lead school districts in New Jersey’s 21 counties. The Association’s mission is to ensure a superior statewide system of education. Through ongoing professional training and education, the association shares knowledge among its members about best practices from both an educational and an administrative perspective. Its goal is to move education forward by ensuring the highest quality of instruction for all New Jersey’s children.

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