Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vote NO! On School Budgets

Jersey voters get to vote on their school budgets one week from today - Tuesday, April 20.
I'll be voting 'No!'
It's not that I don't care about schools. It's not that I don't care about kids. I care deeply about both.
But school budgets climb year after year and they represent the bulk of our property taxes - the nation's highest property taxes.
As I've detailed here on this blog, school budgets are bloated. Many school superintendents receive ridiculously high salaries and huge benefits. Furthermore, districts are weighed down with highly paid administrators and functionaries -- bureaucrats and paper pushers. The record has shown that these fiefdoms continue to hire more and more employees, far in excess of any growth in the school population. It's outrageous and it's got to end!
In fact, across the board, politicians must get the message that enough is enough.
And voting 'NO' on the school budget is one of the only ways we have to get the message across - it's one of our only vehicles to drive the point home.
New Jersey is grossly overtaxed. We must spend less.
So much money is wasted at all levels of government that we must demand thrift and accountability.
Every board, agency, commission - every elected official - must hear our voice loud and clear. Until we use our muscle at the ballot box, nothing will change.
Send a message - vote 'NO' on Tuesday!

7 comments:

Josh said...

Very good points Dan. I just wish it was that simple, that we would vote "no" and they would figure out immediately what we wanted changed.

But we both know what will happen if school budgets are voted down. Those overpaid and unnecessary administrators won't be the ones who get cut. It will be the teachers. It will be the extracirricular activities that keep kids busy and (in many areas) out of trouble between the time school ends and the time Mom & Dad come home from work. It will be the infrastructure (such as up-to-date technology or even building maintenance). Simply put, it will be the teachers and students who get screwed. That's how they goad voters into voting for those budgets every year. And then when they get voted down, parents complain about programs being cut or class sizes increasing.

Do you know if there is any way that laws can be put on the books allowing for voters to line-item veto school budgets? Because that may be what is required to allow the voters' message to get through.

Dan Cirucci said...

Josh:
The school budget elections should never be held in April. This is a classic "insider" election largely controlled by the PTAs and Teacher's Union. Most poor taxpayers don't even know there's an election.
We're trying to alert people to a calamity.
Have you really been ready this blog closely?
If you have, you've read that teachers are being hired at a rate that far, far exceeds the rate of student growth. And teachers have been getting automatic 3, 4, 5% raises year after year -- on top of all their medical and pension benefits.
And the administrators are getting huge salaries.
No, there is no option for a line item veto.
We don't have the time to pull the wings off of flies, Josh. That's not in the offing.
This will be tough. But if (IF!) the state's voters go out and cast a strong NO! vote across the state it will send a powerful message.
We can't let up.
The survival of our state hangs in the balance.
Believe this: The kids are allright. They will survive.

Unknown said...

I can only say Thank God for your blog! I feel like I have found an oasis in the desert.

I will be voting no and sending my message, although most people I know don't get it, and think that because teachers will be cut that we should vote yes for the budget. This only gives permission for the school boards to continue doing what they have been, don't you think?


Also, is there any other way I can help spread the word to my local community? I can't get an article that isn't pro-budget into the paper. What can I do to help wake people up? Any suggestions?

Dan Cirucci said...

Nancy:
There are many things that you can do.
1) Tell all your friends, neighbors and relatives to vote NO. Tell them the dates, time and place of the election, too. Make sure they know.
2) Call or e-mail everyone you know.
3) Make signs to post around your neighborhood. Just make sure you put "paid for" and your name and address at the bottom in small type.
4) E-mail or call your local newspaper with your views.
5) Go to Governor Chris Christie's newsroom for additional facts and information: www.state.nj.us/governor/news/photos/2010/201004.shtml
6) Talk to people that you know -- focus in particular on homrowners who are senior citizens, those on fixed income and those who do not have children in the schools. These are all likely "no" voters.
7) Talk it up. There's still time to make a difference. Go through your personal phone book and call everyone you know.

Anonymous said...

As a Rutherford High School junior, I am actively involved in countless extracurricular activities. I am involved with the theatre, I am President of the Television club, I am visiting Germany and Austria over the summer on an education trip, and I am representing New Jersey at the Academic Decathlon National Competition in Omaha next week.
These are testaments to my own achievements as much as they are testaments to the integrity and stability of our public school system. Rutherford is a blue ribbon school district for a reason, and the programs that are offered give every student the same opportunities that I have had. None of the activities I mentioned are state mandated, and a vote "NO" on the budget is essentially a vote "NO" to all of these amazing opportunities.

In fact, by voting No, I will have to pay an activity fee for all of the programs I love to participate in. Athletes will have to fund their own seasons (and possibly even purchase their own uniforms).

Certainly, there are other places where cuts might be made. While our administrators are quite relatively lowly paid (compared to the other schools in our District Factor Group), we can certainly start from the top down instead of eliminating our fantastic maintenance staff.

But voting NO is not the way to do that. Voting NO is not a way to tell the Board of Education to cut the superintendent's salary instead. Voting NO is voting to cut all of the programs I mentioned in my first post. Voting NO is taking more and more programs away from students like myself.

Please, don't do that.

Anonymous said...

On Tuesday, April 20, 2010, please vote YES for the Rutherford district budget. If this budget does not pass, the following disaster will ensue:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1xOeTvPmP4

While the commercial is funny, this is not a joke. These cuts are serious, and will drastically affect our schools. Please take time out of your day to vote YES on the budget.

Here's a run-down of the process. If the budget is defeated, it goes to the town council. The council set a number, and the Board of Education is required to reduce the budget by that set amount. If the council wants to cut $1 million, the Board of Ed must do so.

Think about this. No TV Production? That means no DVD of Popcert, no Board of Education meetings on public access. An activity fee? That will cost me hundreds for all of the extracurricular activities I participate in. No elementary language program? ¡Que l├ístima! Oh wait- we won't know what means.

It sounds absurd, but the unfortunate truth is, if the budget is defeated, the students are defeated. It is as simple as that.

As a student, I urge you pass this budget on April 20. Look through this group's list of members: the vast majority are STUDENTS. We need this budget to be passed. If it is defeated, Rutherford will no longer be a superb district. It will be a mediocre institution, something Rutherford has never been. Our students and children do not deserve mediocre. In fact, we do not deserve anything less than the best.

If you have any questions on this budget from the student's opinion, please feel free to contact me. I would be more than willing to discuss our opinions with you. My contact information is below, and I would be more than happy to speak to you by phone if you so wish.

Thank you for reading.

Anonymous said...

Some items dont make sense to me - could someone clarify?

As I read it, the budget is asking for a DECREASE in spending from last year.

So if we vote NO are we actually causing an INCREASE in spending?

My next question is - Does voting NO mean the budget will be the same as last year?