Board of Ed: Big raises proposed
Hoboken resident Maureen Sullivan tried to submit a letter about our budget-busting Board of Education to the local newspaper – and was denied (for BS reasons). Me thinks someone at the paper is in cahoots with the whole racket. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Fear not, Maureen! Hoboken411 will publish it – and you will reach 20 times the readers to boot!
Got denied by the paper
My letter was rejected by the Reporter, though I got it in on time. Apparently, it’s not enough to include figures that are readily available on the school district’s website or have already appeared in the Reporter itself. Letter writers are expected to supply written documentation of basic facts. So I suggest that instead of reading the Reporter, folks go directly to the district website: http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/index.php?q=node/663 There you will learn that per pupil spending was $16,793 in 2005. This year it is $24,949. That is a 48.6% increase in three years. The school board’s budget this year is $56.3 million. A bit of googling will show you that the year before it was $52.9 million. That’s a 6.4% increase. That’s just basic math.
And though I say at the end of the letter that Tuesday’s board meeting will be held at 1115 Clinton, I understand that the plan is to move it to the Wallace gym on 11th and Willow.
See her letter below.
Why is the BoE handing out big raises?
January 6, 2009
“To the Editor:
Hoboken is facing a financial tsunami and it would be irresponsible for the school board to move ahead on Tuesday with its plan to award the city’s teachers, drivers and clerks with a reported 4.3% raise and gold-plated benefits over each of the next three years.
We just can’t afford it. Inflation is at 1.1%, so this increase would be well above any cost-of-living raise. The taxpayers have already been socked with a 47% hike in taxes just to cover the collapse at City Hall. It’s been estimated that 25% of Hoboken’s residents work in the financial sector and are, therefore, facing mighty uncertain times. The police officers and firefighters in town are already looking at significant givebacks while their fellow city employees get generous raises. How is that fair?
I’ve heard school board members argue that they are smarter than the mayor and city council. Frank Raia says, “WE can count.” But I don’t know what abacus he’s using. He would argue that school taxes haven’t gone up in 16 years. That’s because we’ve had tremendous development; each year more condos have come on line, adding to the revenue stream. But what about this year? A recession always cuts into revenue, foreclosures are a threat and development has slowed. The State says it’s already missing $2 billion in tax receipts. And Gov. Corzine is promising immediate cuts in education funds to the tune of $75 million. Who knows how much he’ll cut from us in the upcoming fiscal year.
Last March, Superintendent Jack Raslowsky announced that these are “difficult economic times” and that we must “use what we have wisely.” He then presented a $56.3 million budget that was 6.4% larger than the year before. And per pupil spending leapt 5.6% to about $25,000.
He also said his administration “can’t control health costs.” So he budgeted for medical insurance to soar 23% this year at a time when those costs are rising by less than 5% in the private sector. So, in effect, the teachers are getting another healthy raise just by keeping their no-premium, no co-pay health insurance. The plan to increase the school day by half an hour is out the window. Their only giveback appears to be a $5 or $10 charge for prescriptions? Remember those days?
Labor costs are two-thirds of the school budget. We can vote on the next budget in April, but we won’t get another crack at the payroll for three more years. With tax revenues down and education aid cut, which educational programs will have to be sliced so that the employees can keep their big raises? And is it inconceivable to think we could see increases of 10% or more in our school taxes?
The school board meeting is Tuesday, January 13, at 7 p.m. at 1115 Clinton St. Speak out before it’s too late.